Tokyo Olympics: Football – Meet the Coaches

About Football in the Olympics

Men’s Olympic Football actually has a longer history than the FIFA World Cup: it has been played at every Games since Paris 1900, with the sole exception of Los Angeles 1932. Until Los Angeles 1984, participation was restricted to amateur players. Now, the Games serve as a global showcase for young talent and the competition generates high levels of interest.

The emphasis on young players is due to a rule, introduced at the Barcelona 1992 Games, that imposed a maximum age of 23. Since Atlanta 1996, teams have been allowed to include three over-age players.

The women’s competition was added at the Atlanta 1996 Games. There are no age restrictions. The inclusion of women’s football in the Games programme has contributed greatly to its growing popularity and development around the world.

Female Coaches

This year’s tournament has 12 teams fighting for the Gold medal. Out of those 12 teams, 5 have female Head Coaches. That’s a percentage of 41.6%.

Meet those 5 female Head Coaches below:

Asako Takakura – Japan

Takakura started her coaching career as an assistant coach of the Japan U-17 national team at the 2009 and 2011 AFC U-16 Championships. As manager of the Japan U-17 team, she led the youth team to the title of the 2013 AFC U-16 Championship by winning over North Korea in the final. Next year, she led to the title of the 2014 U-17 World Cup by winning over Spain in the final. She repeated the achievement by mentoring the Japan U-20 national team to help them win the title of the 2015 AFC U-19 Championship, again by defeating North Korea in the final.

On 27 April 2016, Takakura was appointed as the manager of the Japan senior national team becoming the first female to hold the post. She was also appointed as manager of the Japan U-20 team and won 3rd place at 2016 U-20 World Cup. In 2018, she led to the title of 2018 Asian Cup.

Takakura has been given the AFC Women’s Coach Of The Year Award Six times; in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018.

Sarina Wiegman – Netherlands

Sarina Wiegman is a Dutch football manager, former footballer and current head coach of the Netherlands women’s national football team. She played as a central midfielder  and, later in her career, as a defender. In 2001, she became the first Dutch footballer to gain 100 caps.

After retiring from play in 2003, Wiegman started a managerial career, coaching the women’s teams of Ter Leede and ADO Den Haag. In 2014, she became assistant manager of the national team. In 2016, Wiegman received her full coaching licence and became the first woman to work as coach at a Dutch professional football organisation

After being appointed head coach of the Netherlands Women, Wiegman led them to victory at the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017. Two years later, she guided the team to a runners-up medal at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. In August 2020, it was announced she would take the job of manager of the England women’s national football team, starting in 2021.

Hege Riise – Great Britain

Hege Riise is a Norwegian football coach and former midfield player. One of the best footballers of her generation, she won the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Olympic Games, and the UEFA Women’s Euro with the Norway women’s national football team.[3]Riise retired as a player at the end of the 2006 season with 188 international caps to her credit, the record for all Norwegian footballers. In 2007, she became the chief trainer at Team Strømmen, in the Norwegian women’s premier league, the Toppserien. In the 2008 season, Team Strømmen were runners-up in both the league and the Cup competitions.

On 28 January 2009, Riise was appointed Assistant Trainer to the USA women’s national team.

Riise became the interim head coach of the England women’s national football team in January 2021. On 10 March 2021 she was also announced as the manager for Team GB at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Bev Priestman – Canada

Beverly Priestman  is an English football manager.

Priestman has coached Canada’s U-17 and U-20 women’s squads and was assistant coach for the Canada women’s national soccer team under head coach John Herdman. She coached England’s women’s U-17 squad and she was assistant coach of the England women’s national football team under head coach Phil Neville from 2018—2020.

In October 2020, Priestman was appointed as the head coach of Canada women’s national soccer team.

Pia Sundhage – Brazil 

Pia Sundhage is a Swedish football coach and former professional player. She is the current head coach of the Brazil women’s national football team. As a player, Sundhage played most of her career as a forward and retired as the top scorer for her national team, but she also had stints playing as a midfielder and a sweeper.

Sundhage was the head coach of the United States women’s national team from 2008 to 2012 and led the team to two Olympic gold medals and a silver medal at the World Cup. Her success led to her winning the 2012 FIFA World Coach of the Year. Sundhage later became the head coach of her native Sweden women’s national football team from 2012 to 2017, winning an Olympic silver medal in 2016.