Female soccer coaches are very few today. They are being dominated by their male counterpart. However, this piece highlights the best of female tacticians.
In the last women’s world cup, 15 of the 24 nations were being coached by men. The remaining 9 were managed by women.
Of course, the women’s game is expanding rapidly as well as the number of women in men’s football. The great heights of women’s football are exemplified by the best women’s teams.
However, the stats still prove that there is a clear imbalance at the management level between the numbers of men and women.
It is also important to note that no woman has ever managed a men’s national team at a men’s World Cup tournament before. This stat validates the existing imbalance in men and women soccer coaches.
But more and more women are coming through the soccer management level. In this piece, we will consider some of the best female soccer coaches [in no particular order].
1. Shelley Kurt
The Scotswoman played for 8 teams in her playing career. Most notably is a 3-year spell at Kilmarnock between 2002-2005. She played for her country 59 times and began coaching in 2007.
Kurt had a brief spell in charge of Hibs during the 07-08 season before she took over at Spartans between 2008 and 2010. Between 2009-13 she also coached Scotland women’s U19 squad. Then, she was given a season with the Gunners and held the 8th-highest win percentage in WSL history with a 56%-win ratio.
In addition, she won the FA Women’s Cup and finished third in the league. She then resigned after a poor start to the 14-15 campaign.
In 2017 she took charge of the Scotland women’s team for 3 years until leaving through mutual consent after failing to reach the 2021 European championships.
Although Shelly Kurt did not win much, she can still be regarded as one of the best female soccer coaches. Why? Not many women coaches have the opportunity to win a trophy. She did win 1.
2. Martina Voss Tecklenburg
An attacking midfielder who played for her country 125 times, Martina started her coaching career in 2008 at FCR 2001 Duisburg.
After 3 years at the club, she took over the reins at USV Jena but was only there for a season after she was offered the Switzerland women’s job in 2012 and took them to 3 major tournaments until resigning in 2018.
In 2019 she was offered the dream role of coach of her country’s women’s team. Voss Tecjlenburg is currently in charge and will lead the Germans into the rescheduled Euro in 2022.
3. Laura Harvey
Harvey, who is also known for writing during a football match, is generally regarded as one of the best female soccer coaches. She started coaching in 2002 and was an assistant at Birmingham Women for 4 years until 2006, when she was promoted to number 1.
In addition, she took on the role of England U17, U19, and U23 assistant in 2005. After 2 years at the helm at Birmingham, she became an assistant at Arsenal in 2008.
Similar to her time in Birmingham, in 2010, she was appointed the manager at Arsenal.
At the end of the 2010-11 season, she had taken them to the league title, FA Cup, and continental cup victories and was named the FA WSL manager of the year.
In 2012 they won the WSL again and also the Continental Cup again. She left at the end of 2012 to take over Seattle Reign FC in the US.
In 2014 and 15, she led them to the playoff final and was named coach of the year. Harvey stepped down in 2017 and has had brief spells at a few US clubs.
She holds the third-highest win percentage in WSL history and the highest for a female coach, coming out victorious in 71% of her games in charge at Arsenal.
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4. Casey Stoney
A legend as a player representing England 130 times, Stoney had previous managerial experience during her time at Chelsea in 2009 as a Player-manager.
After retiring in 2018 she was chucked into the deep end being given the role of Lionesses’ Assistant until she took over at Man United’s newly formed female team.
They won division two in their first season, winning 18 out of 20 league games and only losing one. The next two seasons, she guided them to consecutive 4th place finishes.
She then resigned at the end of the 2020-21 season after a dispute over training facilities. She is now in charge of San Diego NWSL in the USA.
5. Helena Costa
Helena has a master’s degree in sports science and a UEFA license in coaching. She began her career in management in 1997, taking over Benfica women’s youth team.
She was in charge for 13 years up until 2010. During this time, she also managed a team in a lower league of Portugal, Chelierense taking them to victory in the Lisbon Championship.
Between 2006-2008 she was manager of Dezembro women, taking them to consecutive title wins. Odvielos was her next job, and she took them to promotion in her only season at the club.
Also, between 2010-2012 she took over as coach of Qatar women and led them to the team’s first-ever win in history. Then she took over for Iran’s women’s team but failed to take them to the 2015 world cup.
She then made history after being appointed by Clermont Foot, becoming the first woman to be in charge of a club in the top two leagues of one of the ‘big 5’ leagues.
6. Kelly Chambers
Chambers is a former royal player, maybe a relatively unheard-of manager compared to some others on the list. Nonetheless, Kelly deserves recognition for her work at Reading since joining in 2015.
They were in the third tier when she took over and gained promotion in her first season. She then gained promotion 2 seasons later to the WSL after winning the league on goal difference.
Interestingly, they miraculously survived relegation after winning only one game all season.
The next season, they finished in a club-record 4th place. In 2018/19 and 19/20, they finished 5th place in the WSL and looked like an assured top-flight club.
7. Mo Marley
Mo Marley is a born and bred Scouser and played in defence for England 41 times between 1995 and 2001.
Later that year, she took over as England U-19 women’s coach and would go on to keep this role for 16 years until 2017.
During this time, she guided them to a U19 European championship in 2009. Between 2002 and 2012, she was also in charge at Everton Ladies, where she spent her entire playing career.
She took them to a WSL title in 2008, and a FA Cup wins in 2010. Thereafter, she stepped down in 2012 to focus on her role in the England setup.
After stepping down from the U19 role in 2017, she was appointed interim manager for the senior squad. Marley then took over the newly formed U21 women’s side.
Although there are very few women in modern-day football management, Marley stands out as one of the best female soccer coaches.
8. Hope Powell
Hope had a 19-year playing career in midfield, where she played for England 66 times, scoring 35 goals.
After she retired from football in 1998, she took over the Lionesses and was in charge for 15 years up until 2013.
She was at the helm when England attended the 2001, 2005, 2009, and 2013 women’s European championships.
Although they failed to qualify in 2003, they reached the quarter-finals at both the 2007 and 2011 World Cups. She was sacked in August 2013.
In 2017, she was appointed Brighton and Hove Albion women’s team manager and is still in charge there.
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9. Sarina Wiegman
Wiegman is, without a doubt, one of the best female soccer coaches.
A two-time KNVB cup and Dutch league winner as a central midfielder, Sarina took over at Ter Leede in 2006. She is a former player at the Club.
Wiegman won the women’s Dutch league and KNVB in her only season at the club. She then joined Ado den Haag ladies the next year who were participating in the inaugural season of the women’s Eredivisie.
They won the league and cup double in 2012 and the KNVB Cup again in 2013. She left to become an assistant to the Holland women’s national team.
As well as this, she became the first woman to coach in men’s Dutch professional football after becoming an assistant at Sparta Rotterdam.
When Arjan Van Der Laan was sacked as national team boss in December 2016, Wiegman was made interim manager.
In 2017, the deal was made permanent.
Furthermore, she won in the first major tournament she was in charge of as in the same years, the Netherlands won every game at Euro 2007, beating Denmark 4-2 in the final.
Sarina Wiegman won best women’s coach in 2017. She led the side to the final of the 2019 women’s world cup before they were defeated 2-0 by the USA.
In August 2020, she became the first non-brit to coach the England women’s team, and her first game was an 8-0 win over North Macedonia in the 2023 world cup qualifiers.
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10. Emma Hayes
Hayes is one of the first women to come to mind when discussing football. Emma started out in America with Long Island lady riders and Iona College, which took her up to 2006.
She then was offered the role of assistant at Arsenal Ladies and was there from 2006-2008, then went back across the Atlantic to coach Chicago Red Stars for two seasons.
Hayes was on the move once again as she was back in London to work for the family business.
During this time, she got the Chelsea women’s manager job.
She missed out on the WSL title on the final day of the 2013-14 season.
However, her team came back stronger and won the league and FA Cup the next year. She won the WSL again in 2017.
In 2018-19 Hayes won her third League title and made it four the year after. They also came up against Barcelona in their first Champions League final, coming out 4-0 losers.
Hayes has won 96 of the 146 league games she’s managed and should be considered an all-time great.