Friday 17 November 2023, 13:00

Emma Hayes: “I want to encourage little girls to think big”

  • Current Chelsea, and future USA women's national team coach Emma Hayes calls for more women in coaching and boardroom roles

  • Hayes believes the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup will inspire more women to get involved

  • The Best FIFA Women's Coach also shares her tips for those aspiring to follow in her footsteps

Chelsea women’s manager Emma Hayes is hoping that the lasting legacy of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ is a greater number of females in dugouts and in boardrooms. Tomorrow, Saturday 18 November, Hayes’ reigning FAWSL champions host Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, a game that will also be broadcast live on the BBC. Earlier this week, it announced that Hayes will move stateside at the end of the Women's Super League season in England, to become the new US Women's National Team coach prior to the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Speaking at the recent FIFA Women's Football Convention in Sydney, The Best FIFA Women’s Coach Award winner is confident that the tournament will inspire more females into a coaching pathway and is equally optimistic that the success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will be felt at the very youngest age groups. “Look, the bottom line is, it's the first time perhaps in the last eight years maximum, where people can see something to be it,” she said. “Whether you want to be a football player, a coach, an administrator, or work in media, there are opportunities. You can dream about a life in football, whether it be the women's game or the men's game, much different to when I was a child. I didn't have role models, and I just want to encourage all the little girls to think big, you're good enough to play, you're good enough to have an equal space with the boys. “So, roll up your sleeves and you have to fight too, because not only is that part of the game, but it's part of what we have to do. Sometimes it's exhausting and you'll face a lot of challenges but don't give up.”

There were twelve female coaches managing the 32 teams at Australia & New Zealand 2023 with Hayes keen to see those numbers rise. And she has called upon clubs and federations to be bold when it comes to breaking the mould. “It all goes back to opportunity and, so often, everything from the cost of coaching courses, which can be very cost prohibitive, to paid jobs in the industry, means that we don't get the same opportunities that men do, and we have to keep building that framework and systems to be able to provide that opportunity,” she said. “Secondly, there are plenty of female coaches that can be hired by federations, but they choose not to, which is the question to be asked: why don't we have more when there are a vast number of women coaching across the world that are able to fulfil positions? “And I think it's critical for federations to really think about the value of women within their organisation and promote opportunities for them.

Emma Hayes, Manager of Chelsea, celebrates winning the Barclays Women's Super League with her son in May 2023

“I'm pretty certain that at the board levels in most places, not only the percentage of women are incredibly low, but I suspect that the lack of diversity in the decision-making positions are part of that reason.

“So, I think we have to live and breathe what we say we want to do, but that kind of action is going to require some strong leadership and the bottom line is: we have a lot of work to do.” For those aspiring to full-time coaching roles, Hayes has suggested that they must learn a broad skill set, as they seek to make the first step.

Emma Hayes

“It’s important to learn the business of the sport and, most importantly, hone your craft. You only do that with hours on the grass, and off the pitch analysing. Equally importantly, learn how to manage people, because that's what we do,” she explained. “All of those things take time. Have the belief and the confidence that if you know what you want to achieve, stick at it. You're going to face a lot of adversity and it's important that you always back yourself to get to where you want to go.”

Women's Football