Semi-finalists at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011™, Les Bleues continued their excellent run of form at the Olympic Football Tournament by again finishing fourth, a few months after their success at the Cyprus Cup. The credit for this new consistency in reaching the semi-finals of major competitions must go to Bruno Bini, who has been coach of the French women’s national team since February 2007.
Bruno Bini is regarded as an expert in women's football, although he prefers to view his position in more general terms. “My work isn’t specifically about women; it’s about football,” he is fond of repeating. But there is no denying that it is his fine work in this specific category that has significantly boosted his reputation. Prior to being handed the reins of France’s women’s team in 2007, he spent ten productive years at the head of the country’s U-16 and U-18 female sides.
After guiding his charges to the UEFA European U-19 Championship in 2003, as well as overseeing an appearance in the final in 2002, the year in which he also participated in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, the Frenchman can look back with some measure of pride at having brought many of today’s first-team regulars through the ranks, such as Camille Abily, Laura Georges and Berangere Sapowicz.
Just two years after his arrival at the helm, France advanced to the second round of an international tournament for the first time ever at UEFA EURO 2009. Bini followed up that achievement by steering Les Bleues to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™, impressively negotiating their qualifying campaign without conceding a single goal.
The often quirky coach, who believes that “humour, literature and poetry” are ideal methods of communication, has managed to build a competitive and well-balanced squad, all the while stressing the importance of creating a convivial atmosphere and encouraging his players to sign up to what he refers to as “a plan for life”.
Now 58 years of age, he is currently experiencing the most successful period of his coaching career, which has in turn led to a surge in popularity in the women’s game in France. Before his players’ incredible run to the semi-finals at Germany 2011, the women’s game had struggled to gain a foothold at home.
“I’ve attended some pretty lonely press conferences, held in empty rooms,” recalled the tactician. “It was a shame, because I had some great stories to tell. They said to me: 'Alright, start getting results, and we’ll come and listen.’ So we kept a low profile but continued to make progress.”
And it is that very progress which has led to Bini’s name being mentioned in the same breath as some of the world’s top coaches. The France job is one in which he feels comfortable, and one that he has no intention of leaving, despite regular interest and offers from professional clubs.
But judging from his consistently joyful disposition, Bini is content in his current role. This is confirmed by France midfielder Abily: “He’s always really upbeat when the squad meets up, and that enthusiasm gets passed on to the players.”
Winning the 2012 FIFA Women’s Football Coach of the Year award would doubtless see Bini’s grin grow even broader than usual, and would provide him with further interesting anecdotes with which to entertain the media, this time at packed press conferences.