Brazilian coaching staff + co-ordinationPhoto credits to Rafael Ribeiro/CBF
Photo: Brazilian coaching staff and Brazilian head of co-ordination for women’s football via Twitter / @CBF_Futebol

Is gender inequality holding back Brazil WNT’s progress?

Recently, Spanish players have called for changes in their national team. This because, Ignacio Quereda, their main coach has been leading Spanish women’s national team since 1988.

That is right, you did not misread. Quereda has coached Spain for 27 years! That is a lot of time without any results and changes. Unlike the men team, the female one did not achieve any significant results in their history. This did not happen due to the lack of ability of female Spanish players (because they are very skilled!), but due to the absence of encouragement from their federation and cultural aspects.

Very similar to what happens in Brazil, a country where sexism dominates social attitudes as, for example, football being a sport only for boys,and where our football confederation never cared much for the women’s team.
Besides being a major contributor to the lack of achievements of the women’s national team, the Brazilian football confederation, was also recently responsible for the failure of the men’s team in the last World Cup.

Daniel Alves gave an interview recently saying that Pep Guardiola wanted to coach Brazil at last year’s World Cup but local officials were against him. He also said that the former Barcelona coach was even willing to get paid only if he achieved the outcomes expected by the Brazilian people. Who would refuse the best coach in the world? They preferred the humiliation of 7×1 than having a foreign coach…

I have always advocated bringing foreign coaches to Brazil from countries where the sport is more developed. Even more after sports like handball, canoeing and water polo have achieved significant results after having invested in foreign trainers. The main example is Morten Soubak, a Danish coach who trains the Brazilian handball team since 2009 and lead them to a historic title at the 2013 World Women’s Handball Championship.

I have also always defended the idea of women, preferably former players, as part of the coaching staff of female teams. It is inadmissible a female national team that do not have a woman at least as a member of their coaching staff. Why Juliana Cabral, Sissi, Aline Pellegrino and other former female players can not be part of the Brazilian coaching staff? I’m pretty sure that many of them are much more capable and has a lot more interest in the success of the Brazilian team, than those who are there currently.

There are many countries who have succeeded with female coaches and former women’s footballers including USA who have earned great success under Pia Sundhage and Jill Ellis. Germany were a dominant force under the guidance of Silvia Neid who has recently stepped down from the role and retired footballer Steffi Jones is set to take charge. The success is not limited to senior level, retired women’s footballer Maren Meinert is doing a fantastic job with Germany U-20 including winning the FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup in Canada last year.

The Olympics are coming, and under pressure from the Ministry of Sports for good results, the Brazilian Football Confederation had to invest in the women’s team. So they made some changes. First, they hired a coach with a long career in men’s football, who probably had never watched a women’s football match before; after created a permanent national program, but without investing in friendlies; and lastly appointed as head of co-ordination for women’s football a person who also had nothing to do with women’s football.

Why choose a head of co-ordination for women’s football with no relation to the women’s game? Why not choose a female coach or a foreign coach with large experience in women’s football? I have nothing against Vadão or Cunha, but in my opinion they are conservative choices made by those who do not know anything about women’s football and do not have much interest in this.

In my view, serious work would be grounded in learning with professionals from other countries, with more tradition in women’s football, such as Germany and US, and in professional qualification of former players, so they can keep helping to develop the modality and one of them can assume the position of head coach one day.

After the Brazilian failure in Canada being eliminated by Australia in the knockout stage and after realizing that the best teams were those who possessed the best defences, I fear for Brazil. The USWNT won not because Carli Lloyd was electrifying in the final, but because they have a great goalkeeper and fantastic defenders, who were consistent throughout all the championship and gave to them the best defence of the World Cup.

Unlike the US, Brazil has a major issue with the defence sector, mainly in the left wing and with the goalkeeper spot. Watching the match on last Wednesday of Brazil against Mexico in Pan Am Games, I joked with Gina that the next title of my post would be: “Goalkeeper is needed.” On defence, the problem might be solved with the return of the captain Bruna Benites and Tayla, but Brazil urgently need a reliable goalkeeper, because Andréia Suntaque did not leave replacements.

My ticket for the final in the Olympics has already been bought. However, everything suggests that I will not see my country playing the final match at Maracana. But in a team with Marta, Cristiane and Formiga anything is possible. So I must have faith…

9 Comments
  1. Alex Marta 4 years ago

    Hi guys, I am overly crazy when it comes to football and also when i recently began following the women’s game. I love it. I myself play but i haven’t quite been able to get the cutting edge. So i have a question.

    Do you guys think anyone, just anyone can be a coach for an upcoming women’s football team? My campus team, we have this guy who is actually a student, who volunteered to help us train. He is NOT a coach. He doesn’t have any badges nor experience of ever taking on any team, men or women. I feel like he is not helping the team at all. Its been 7 months since we began and no progress. Some people cannot even make a pass. Most of us cannot do long balls. Their is no understanding of what results into a corner and how it is taken. The same can be said about free-kick. Basically, set-pieces. One Friday session we had the boys coach train us & it was all refreshing.We applauded the session really happily & he got mad. He doesn’t want to be criticized or challenged. To cut this short, we haven’t won a single game in 7 months. Our display is chaotic. In a single half of a game, a defender will play mid-field & striking. Trial & error. He isn’t sure of who should play where. After we loose a game, its all about blame game. He blames you in front of everyone. Doesn’t give due credit. Favors others.

    So, can anyone just wake up one day and say, that i am a coach? or i can coach a women’s team? Your responses would be highly appreciated and much of help. Thank you.

    • Gina West 4 years ago

      Hi Alex,

      Very good question… Personally I think that not just anyone can be a coach. I think that you need to learn that profession and develop the skills in order to be able to complete the tasks in hand.

      I am sorry to hear about your lack of progress in your team and the poor way that the current coach is communicating with yourself and your team – @keithboanas will be able to give the best advice, but from a former player’s perspective I would say that people management is very important and constructive criticism and advice and encouragement on how you can approve is acceptable but a ‘blame game’ in front of the whole team would in my opinion just bring morale down and will just have a negative effect on the team in general.

      Is it possible that you could speak to the boys coach who trained you recently and ask if he could volunteer to help more often or maybe he can recommend someone who can.

      You obviously love your sport and are serious about wanting to improve and develop so it is important that you can get the best guidance you can.

    • Author
      Izzy 4 years ago

      Hi @agnesolawo
      Make a petition with your teammates and delivered to the person in charge of sports in your campus. You are not required to stay with a horrible “coach” just because he volunteered … I’m sure other more capable can volunteer for the job when he leave.

      • Alex Marta 4 years ago

        Thanks for the reply. The issue also is, my fellow team-mates would possibly ‘kill me’ if i suggest so. They even apologized for having applauded the other coaches training. I am sailing alone in this boat i think. I am not ready to walk on the same path i have in two ocassions which have all proven futile

        • WSU 4 years ago

          Sorry to hear about the issues you’re having.
          I wonder, is there a women’s football team outside of campus that you could join – they may have a better and more dedicated set-up?

  2. keithboanas 4 years ago

    I understand ad agree with your first response Izzy . I can tell you that my assistant coach who will eventually take over from me is female our u19 u17 and u15 teams all have a female head coach and a female assistant coach. All of our physiotherapists except the head of that department are female . Our 2 current NT goalkeepers act as assistants to the GK coach with our youth teams . And through coach education we have qualified in the last two years over 50 female coaches at C licence , 6 have gone on to pass their B licence 2 their A and one has the UEFA pro licence , We have another 14 going through their B right now. This is the way forward and Estonia only has 1.25 million people and only 1000 registered female players . So Brazil should be an open book for progression . Anything i can do to help just let me know.
    I wish you the best of luck in a country where Football should and must conquer all equality issues.

  3. keithboanas 4 years ago

    I am a man , but have been involved with womens football for 20 years and i coach coaches , Would love to coach a team of this ability and help develop the female coaches. I am certain could take the game to the next level . But seems unlikely it can happen .

    • Author
      Izzy 4 years ago

      Hi @keithboanas , Thanks for your comment! I am not against a men as a coach, we have examples of successful of both men and women coaches in women’s football. Norio Sasaki and Mark Sampson are arguably good coaches and were well successful with their respective WNT. My criticism is in the fact of not choose anyone connected to the women’s football and in not giving a opportunities for women in the women’s team. As you can see, that picture above illustrates it very well. Not a single woman is currently working in the brazilian coaching staff…. I believe a coach (male / female), from a country with tradition in women’s football, without prejudice and without loading the cultural and sexist aspects of a country, would be a better option because this coach would be an outsider with a different perspective and other ideas. Imagine countries like Nigeria, Spain, Brazil with a staff coaching counting with Silvia Neid, for example. Even the US has hired coaches and coach assistants abroad, for example, Pia Sundhage and Tony Gustavsson.

      • Author
        Izzy 4 years ago

        It would be wonderful if Brazil could have the support of people like you @keithboanas, involved in women’s football for so many years! 🙂

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