Coach Tracker is our regular report on how well clubs and nations are doing with the appointment of women as head coaches. This month our focus is on pro-leagues in Australia, England and the USA. Top line results for women head coaches: England 50%, USA - in flux, a best ever 40% in Australia.
The English Football Association’s Women’s Super League (FAWSL) has for several years been the leader in having women as head coaches for pro-league teams.
Two years ago the FAWSL achieved a peak of 67% women head coaches/managers. At the start of the current season the proportion had declined to 42% (5) of the 12 FAWSL teams by mid-August 2021.
However, the proportion has risen again to 50% (6 out of 12 teams) with the recent replacement of a male coach with a woman. That result keeps the FAWSL at the top of Coach Tracker’s international pro-league charts.
Meanwhile, in the United States’ National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) the coaching carousel* keeps turning. On day 1 of the season there was only 1 (10%) woman head coach (Freya Coombe at Gotham FC). By the end of the season there were two women coaches (20%) but only 1 out of 10 first day coaches were still in place – James Clarkson at Houston Dash.
In this remarkable season there were 5 coaches dismissed for cause (all men, associated with player mistreatment). The others left for a variety of reasons.
The good thing so far is that women have been given head coaching opportunities that they might not have otherwise had. The two additional NWSL teams for the 2022 season – Angel City and San Diego Wave have both appointed women head coaches. One of the disgraced male coaches was replaced by a woman mid-season and a well-known women coaches have recently been appointed to two clubs. Several clubs are yet to appoint head coaches for season 2022.
So right now in the NWSL the state of play is:
Men – 4 head coaches for 2022 season (33%) with at least one more likely
Women – at least 5 – minimum 42% of coaches will be women, possibly increase to 58%%
Unknown – 3, with one of the vacant positions likely to be filled by a man (given that Kris Ward won the Championship with Washington Spirit after coming in part way through the season).
*Credit for this very apt term goes to The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf
So Australia’s A-League Women (ALW) clubs look like a picture of stability and improvement on the coaching front.
The first day of this season began with both of last season’s women head coaches – Vicky Linton (Canberra) and Ash Wilson (Newcastle) – still in place. They were joined by former Matilda Catherine Cannulli at Western Sydney Wanderers and former Wales international Gemma Lewis at new club Wellington Phoenix.
That means the ALW is up there in the top level of women’s leagues internationally with 40% women head coaches.
At ALW level at least a goal of 50% of Head Coaches is very feasible in the short-term. But overall equality of coaching opportunities at A-Leagues clubs is still a long way off as statistical analysis we will publish in coming weeks will show.