Wiegman: We have a dream
Dutch coach previews the Women’s World Cup
Was assistant during Netherlands’ global debut in 2015
Wiegman: "We're a team that others want to beat"
When sitting down to talk with Sarina Wiegman, you get an instant feeling that you are in the presence of unshakeable determination and focus. Every question is contemplated thoughtfully, every response is measured and assured. While there is a light side to the Dutch coach, smiling and laughing at certain subjects, there is no doubt that Wiegman exudes the aura of an elite coach at the very top of her profession.
This status was recognised when the Dutchwoman was named The Best FIFA Women’s Coach in 2017, after her success with the Leeuwinnen on home soil at the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017. Now, her attention is firmly focused on combining continental success with glory on the global stage. FIFA.com sat down with Wiegman to discuss her hopes for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™, her outstanding crop of players and her experience from Canada 2015.
FIFA.com: You were an assistant at Canada 2015 – what will you take from that experience heading into France 2019?
Sarina Wiegman: The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada was the first World Cup we attended with the Netherlands. We needed that experience to know what happens in such a tournament. The travelling, also the media, huge stadiums… The players and staff need that experience to grow. That’s the main thing that we take with us.
But since 2009, we have also attended the European Championships. The world has changed after the 2017 EUROs for us. Before the tournament, the expectations were not that high, we just wanted to do really well and show the people how good we were. Now expectations are different so we take that with us to France with all the experiences we have had the last few years.
The Netherlands: UEFA Women's EURO 2017 champions
Sarina Wiegman delirious with joy after winning the UEFA Women's EURO
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Sarina Wiegman joins her players in lifting the UEFA Women's EURO 2017
(L-R) goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal of Holland Women, Desiree van Lunteren of Holland Women, Stefanie van der Gragt of Holland Women, Mandy van den Berg of Holland Women, Kika van Es of Holland Women, Anouk Dekker of Holland Women, Shanice van de Sanden of Holland Women, Sherida Spitse of Holland Women,Vivianne Miedema of Holland Women, Danielle van de Donk of Holland Women, Lieke Martens of Holland Women, Jill Roord of Holland Women, Renate Jansen of Holland Women, Jackie Groenen of Holland Women, Sisca Folkertsma of Holland Women, goalkeeper Angela Christ of Holland Women, Kelly Zeeman of Holland Women, Vanity Lewerissa of Holland Women, Sheila van den Bulk of Holland Women, Dominique Janssen of Holland Women, Lineth Beerensteyn of Holland Women, Liza van der Most of Holland Women, goalkeeper Loes Geurts of Holland Women, coach Sarina Wiegman of Holland Women during the UEFA WEURO 2017 final match between The Netherlands and Denmark at the Grolsch Veste on August 06, 2017 in Enschede, The Netherlands Women:The Netherlands v Denmark UEFA WEURO 2017 2017 2018 xVIxVIxImagesx xTomxBodexMultimediaxIVx PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY 8417507
As European champions, you are one of the teams to beat. How do you use that added pressure to your advantage?
The expectations are higher now, which is totally normal because we won the European Championships. But we have also showed that we are a very good team. We had a good qualification campaign. We didn’t do well against Norway and we had to go into the play-offs which, after all, was very good because the highest pressure we had was in the play-offs, which we also take as an experience.
We wanted to show everyone how good we were and that came with the European Championships. But what we do is focus on football and improving every day. During the World Cup – of course – we have a dream, like everyone else, and we do think that we are a team that others want to beat. But we focus on winning every game and we want to show again how good we are and just work together as a team on the field.
You have some of the world’s best representing the Netherlands - Lieke Martens, Vivianne Miedema and Danielle van de Donk to name but three - how important are this trio to your team?
I think it first starts with the team. We have a team strategy and we know as a team how we want to be on the field, how we want to behave, our playing style. If we work together as a team really well then the exceptional qualities can rise. I think then we have qualities like speed, intelligence, scoring ability and also in defence we have some qualities. But it first starts with teamwork.
Your support for the EURO was remarkable – how important is the fans’ backing for your success?
We’ve become very popular in the Netherlands since the EUROs and it was incredible. We really want to keep showing the fans how good we are and let them have fun. Of course winning is the main thing, but if we play well and do the best we can, people will stay enthusiastic. That’s what we showed in qualification last year and we hope so many people come to France and come to cheer for us. We want to keep them enthusiastic and give them a great experience.
Who do you think are the favourites for the France 2019 title, and why?
Of course USA are the favourites. I also think that Japan are high up, France are the hosts so they will get extra support. There are a lot of countries improving - England are doing very well. We know that Germany had a hard time at the EUROs but they’re bringing their game up again. There are a lot of favourites for the title. There will always be some surprises. You never know.
What does Dare To Shine mean to you?
For me it means dare to show who you are, dare to show how good you are. Just go for it and have fun. Most times if you win you have fun, but just show who you are and give the best you can. That’s what we’re going to try to do this summer.