Aberdeen Women co-manager Emma Hunter has nothing but praise for her Chelsea Women counterpart Emma Hayes, as the Blues’ boss picked up the Fifa Best Coach award.
Earlier this week, Emma Hayes won the Fifa Best Women’s Coach award after guiding Chelsea to the domestic treble and Champions League final in 2021.
Her most recent achievement is just another to include in a long list that also includes being handed an OBE in the New Years Honours list for her services to football.
Hayes success has often seen her regarded as a ‘trailblazer’ and a ‘pioneer’ in the women’s game.
Aberdeen co-boss Hunter has first-hand experience of Hayes’ approach to football, having had the opportunity to spend some time with the Chelsea head coach in 2019.
Hunter hails Hayes’ award as being “massive” for the progress of the women’s game, and having seen her commitment up close, isn’t surprised by the Chelsea boss’ most recent accolade.
“We could ask her anything, and had a couple of days with the team and got to watch what she was doing,” Hunter said.
“She spoke to us about her journey in the game, what she’s delivering currently at Chelsea and what her aspirations are for the club.
“You can completely relate to someone like Emma. She’s really determined and focused.
“She’s been through so many ups and down and in so many stages of her career. She thought it was never going to happen where she would get the resources she’s got at the club now.
“But she’s always asked the questions and fought for it because she knew it was the right thing to do and believed in what she could get out of the game as well.”
The Chelsea boss has been applauded for her punditry and flair that she brings to her post-match media duties.
Hunter believes that Hayes’ personality and character off the pitch explains why she is so well thought of in the world of football, and is another reason why she looks up to her fellow coach.
She added: “It’s not just what she does in football, but it’s her whole character. Emma’s very eccentric, quirky and intelligent – she’s more than just a football coach and definitely someone who is a role model for me.
“Whenever things get tough and I think about how hard it can be to breaking into football, it just inspires you to keep going and reminds you that these things are possible.”
More progress needs to be made
In SWPL 1, only 40% of the head coaches are women. These include Hunter, Debbi McCulloch (Spartans), Eva Olid (Hearts) and Eileen Gleeson (Glasgow City).
And while Hunter thinks Hayes success will impact the growth of the women’s game as she continues to become a more “recognisable face” for male and female fans, more needs to be done to attract and keep more female coaches involved at all levels of the game.
The Aberdeen co-boss advocates for male and female coaches in the women’s game, but hopes more will be done to ensure that better opportunities exist for aspiring female coaches to work and make a living from the game.
So grateful to @emmahayes1 for allowing us to be part of the Chelsea Women’s family and inspiring us to make a difference. Thank you to @WomeninFootball for the amazing #WhatIf campaign. pic.twitter.com/IgC9OODNPr
— Emma Hunter (@EmmaHunterAFC) September 9, 2019
Hunter said: “The most important part for me is that clubs invest in women’s football so that there are jobs for women. That’s a big problem.
“If more and more clubs can create infrastructures in women’s football like academies and programmes for women, then there are actually going to be jobs in the women’s game.
“Until the Aberdeen job came up, there weren’t many jobs in women’s football for me to get involved.
“If I had wanted to try and succeed in women’s coaching, I would have had to move my whole family to England and take a chance on that.
“You have to put these things in place to aspire for diversity in the sport. In order to change something, you have to take these steps and get the ball rolling.”