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.

(L-R) coach Roger Reijners of Holland, assistant trainer Jan Willem van Ede of Holland, assistant trainer Sarina Wiegman of Holland during the International Friendly Länderspiel match prior to the FIFA Women s World Cup Canada 2015 between Netherlands women and Estonia women on May 20, 2015 at the Sparta stadium in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Netherlands women v Estonia women International Friendly 2014 2015 xVIxxIVx PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxHUNxPOLxJPNxONLY 3893760

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.

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.