In the words of Claude Michy, President of French second division club Clermont Foot, the appointment of Helena Costa as his team’s new coach created an ‘earthquake’.
“Because it’s football — something global and still rather conservative — and a provincial French team hires a female coach, it creates a media earthquake,”Michy told the New York Times in an interview.
Costa, you see, is a 36-year-old woman. And a woman has never coached a male team at the elite level (and, yes, we can call the French second division ‘elite’). Costa is the first female to be a head coach in one of the top two divisions of Europe’s five major professional leagues: France, Germany, England, Italy and Spain. Think about that.
She comes with some pedigree. She has previously coached the women’s national teams of Qatar and Iran and been a scout for Glasgow Celtic and coached the youth team of Benfica, one of Portugal’s biggest clubs.
“I opened a door today, and more women will walk through on my back,” Costa said. “That’s what I hope.”
So, straightaway, there’s the challenge. Who’s next?