Ajax coach Sarina Wegman?  It will not be a step forward

Ajax coach Sarina Wegman? It will not be a step forward

The chance doesn’t seem like much, but if Wegman really does become the coach of the team from Amsterdam, it will be unique. Because while there are plenty of male coaches in women’s football, the opposite is an entirely different story.

Few trainers

In the whole world, there are only a few examples of women coaching a men’s team. For example, the Norwegian football club Sotra, which plays in Norway’s third tier, is coached by Renate Blindheim.

Blindheim herself played in Norway’s national youth teams, but had to end her playing career at the age of seventeen due to persistent injuries. After that she successfully threw herself into a coaching career.

However, the most famous example of a woman as a coach in men’s soccer is Corinne Diacre, the current coach of the French women’s national team. Diacre, who made 121 appearances for France, coached Clermont Foot between 2014 and 2017.

Clermont Foot, now playing at the highest level in France, featured in the years under Diacre in Ligue 2, the second level. In 2015, Diacre was named the best coach for that competition by the French Football Federation. She left the club to become the French women’s national coach.

Great resume

Wiegman may have the best resume of all candidates for the Ajax coaching position. She became European champion with both the Dutch and English women’s teams. As the coach of the Netherlands, she also finished runner-up in the World Cup in 2019.

Nor is Wegman completely unfamiliar with men’s football. In 2016 she worked as an assistant coach for Jong Sparta men for a season.

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magnifying glass

Football analyst and former footballer Leon Stettler has no doubts whether Wegman will be a good coach for Ajax. “When you look at her qualities and what she’s accomplished, I think she certainly has what it takes to coach a top team in men’s soccer,” said Stentler.

However, the former Ajax and Dutch national team player, among others, would advise Wegman against this step. “The club is under fire,” Stentler said, referring to the turmoil in the Ajax board, which includes director Van der Sar and duo Huntelaar and Hamstra.

“When you’re the first woman to coach an all-male team, you know there’s a huge magnifying glass on you,” says Stentler. “If you do it, you have to do it at a club where everything is fine, with a manager standing behind you and staying there. I’m not sure about that at Ajax.”

The absolute top

According to the former international, the fact that there are few female coaches in men’s football can easily be explained: there are few female coaches. “The KNVB hasn’t invested in training women to become coaches for a long time,” she says.

There are only five women in the Netherlands who have the UEFA Pro Diploma, which is necessary to become a coach in professional football. Sarina Wegman is one of them.

By the way, it is still questionable whether Wegman ever wanted to become the coach of the men of Ajax. “It’s funny how everyone assumed that would be a step up for Sarina,” Stentler notes. “But why is a step into men’s football a step forward by definition? It’s already at the absolute top.”

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Terribly conservative

Henk Spahn, journalist and co-founder of football magazine Hard Grass, has no doubts about Wegman’s abilities. “I’ve had great success in women’s football. To become European champions with two nations is very good.”

However, just like Stetler, Span doubts whether Wiegman will wait to switch to Ajax. “She’s really not just going to work as a coach in the Eredivisie,” Spahn thinks. “It is highly questionable whether becoming Ajax coach would be a significant improvement in her position.”

According to Spahn, the lack of female coaches is largely due to the conservatism of football. “The Dutch football world is very conservative, and moves on a very low intellectual level,” says the journalist.

And he points out that it’s not much different in other sports: “I’ve never seen a female basketball coach in America. The world of sports is not entirely progressive to say the least.”

In England, where Wegman is still a national coach, fans are fond of her anyway:

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