Friday 27 October 2023, 15:00

Benítez and Galindo share enriching experience

  • The pair are taking part in the second edition of the FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme

  • Mentor and mentee met up in Paraguay earlier this month

  • “FIFA invites us to open up our knowledge bank,” enthused the Mexican

Sitting in one of the rooms at the Paraguayan Football Association’s modern high‑performance centre for its women’s national teams, Epifanía Benítez and Ana Galindo are all smiles as they recall their first face-to-face meeting under the auspices of the FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme back in July 2022.

Two months on from the launch of the second edition of the programme, Benítez, a mentor and the head coach of the Paraguay U-17 women’s team, travelled to Mexico to visit her mentee Galindo, who coached La Tri’s U-17 women’s side at the time. As the following account reflects, Benítez most certainly fulfilled her remit during the trip.

“The date of her visit was approaching, and I was going through a tough time, because I’d been asked to take charge of the U-20 team just before the World Cup in Costa Rica. It wasn’t my age group, and I still had a lot of doubts in my mind,” Galindo told

Mantee Ana Galindo visits mentor Epifania Benitez as part of the FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme

“I spoke to my mentor Epifanía, who gave me her full backing. It was important that I could turn to someone who wasn’t part of my immediate circle but had the professional experience on the international stage to help me. That guidance is priceless and really reflects just how special this mentorship programme is,” added the 38-year-old Mexican.

Benítez takes up the story: “I went to visit her, and I told her that her nerves were understandable. After all, she was going to her first World Cup with a team she hadn’t worked with before! I tried to reassure her and remind her that if she liked what she was doing, she’d even enjoy the experience. I tried to instil confidence in her, and I think it worked,” she said as Galindo nodded in agreement.

The 43-year-old Paraguayan certainly knows what she’s talking about. As well as being the first female coach to have led a Paraguay women’s national team to compete on the global stage – the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 – she was a mentee in the inaugural edition of the FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme. The Albirroja youth coach was mentored by former Spain coach Jorge Vilda, who led his nation to glory at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™.

Mentee Ana Galindo visits mentor Epifania Benitez

“One day, I asked Jorge what it was – besides the infrastructure and investment – that set the European national teams apart, because they always beat us comfortably. ‘There are no secrets. It’s all about working hard, taking pride in what you do and believing in your players.’ That was a lesson I was keen to pass on to Ana when I met with her in Mexico,” commented Benítez.

Following the pair’s subsequent online meetings, Galindo revelled in the exchange on approaches and the conversations they shared during their week in Paraguay, although she expressed her regret at having been unable – on account of her commitments with the Mexican Football Association – to attend the in-person workshops held to date, including the get-together during the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica 2022™.

“I’d planned to watch the Mexico v. Colombia group-stage game from the stands alongside my fellow coaches, and not from the dugout,” beamed the Mexican, whose side bowed out at the quarter-final stage in Costa Rica following a 1‑0 defeat at the hands of eventual winners Spain.

Galindo, who has since been handed the U-20 job on a permanent basis, praised the methodology implemented in the programme and its content. “FIFA teaches us to exchange as a group, focusing on the individual while still allowing the association some input. It encourages us to share information, regardless of whether we’ll come up against each other in the dugout. FIFA helps us to let our guard down and to open up our knowledge bank. It’s an incredibly rich experience and one that helps the women’s game to grow.”

Benítez underlined the role world football’s governing body plays in developing the female game besides running this particular programme. “FIFA has the ability to bring together top-level coaches, and it encourages each association to support female football and the women’s youth national teams, thereby helping to train the future generations.”

In this regard, Benítez was keen to highlight that her working sessions with Galindo took place at the Paraguayan FA’s complex, “a facility dedicated to women’s football that opened last year” and was built with the financial support of the FIFA Forward Programme . “In addition to the investment in infrastructure, the women’s game is receiving unprecedented attention in Paraguay, with all six top flight matches televised each matchday.”

With the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup™ and the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup™ to be hosted in the Dominican Republic and Colombia respectively in 2024, the pair are optimistic about what the near future holds for their regions.

Galindo summed up their thoughts in the following terms: “The tournaments will provide an excellent opportunity to develop and put women’s football in the spotlight. They’ll help to attract more girls and sponsors because there’ll be some attractive football on show. The lack of support is sometimes down to the lack of visibility. They’ll give us the chance to showcase how both of our confederations are growing.”

Coach Mentorship