- Katie Chapman and Kristine Lilly discuss wide-ranging women's football topics
- The two legends preview the rest of the FAWSL season and NWSL Fall Series
- Vlatko Andonovski and Sarina Wiegman also discussed
For the third time in the new 'Football Talks with FIFA Legends' series, FIFA invited the media to a virtual interview with Katie Chapman and Kristine Lilly.
As in last week’s discussion between Steve McManaman and Michel Salgado, the two legends spent around 45 fascinating minutes answering questions and discussing the latest news from international and club football. The two stars previewed the rest of the FAWSL season, giving a particular focus to the influx of USA women's national team FIFA Women's World Cup™ winners who have signed with clubs in the league.
FIFA.com brings you the highlights of a fascinating media roundtable conversation about the future of women's football development and various other pertinent topics.
FIFA.com: There have been many exciting signings of USA women's national team stars in the FAWSL recently. What kind of impact do you expect them to have on the league?
Katie Chapman: It's only going to make the league more competitive. They give the English league that global outlook that I think we need. It will only make the other players that have been there better by training with them. It'll be unbelievable to help our younger generation, too, to see world class players come over and play in this league. It's going to be the most competitive it's ever been this season, which for me as a former player, is really exciting.
We've seen some major USA stars come over across the pond. What are your thoughts on those signings and what they'll add to the FAWSL?
Kristine Lilly: I think overall there's just excitement that we're talking about these things. Coming from a time where we were just lucky to have a professional league for us back in the early 2000s, so now to be discussing transfers, it's incredible. Obviously these top players coming over to England are going to help, whether it's on-the-field or media stuff and attention, all of it helps the sport grow. Obviously in the US we love when we get the top players to come play here, because it helps the game and brings it up to another level, so both sides win when we have these opportunities.
For the NWSL, they hosted a small tournament in the summer and now one in the fall so they're creating opportunities for the league, which I think is exciting too because the players need to be playing. We'll miss the players that aren't here, but it gives the next group that are trying to make it professionally to show what they have and give them some minutes on the field. It's exciting that we have so much going on for the women's game at the pro level, so hopefully this will benefit the players to improve and continue to grow the game.
Moving the conversation on to international football, let's turn our attention to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup. With the USA having a new coach, what's the mood like there? What are the future prospects of the USA women's national team?
Lilly: I think with the impact Vlatko Andonovski had on the NWSL and knowing the players that way, I think the transition's probably a lot smoother and I know the English team is going to a new coach as well, so it will be interesting to watch. Internationally, the players haven't got to play. I know the players are doing a lot of training on their own when they're not with the team. The coaches are constantly looking for those players who can make an impact at the highest level. If you look at the success USA had last summer and the youth they had on that field, they're in good shape. It's way on the other side of the world, so I think these players are going to look forward to playing in Australia and New Zealand.
Which countries and players stood out for you in the recent UEFA EURO qualifiers? And what do you think Sarina Wiegman will ultimately bring to the Lionesses?
Chapman: England went away and they played against each other, so home against away. It was great to see a really big squad there with a lot of the younger talent that's coming in and getting the opportunity to play their first game. From a Chelsea perspective, where I played most recently, some big names performed, including Pernille Harder (Denmark) and Sam Kerr (Australia). Seeing the quality that's in and around the English game, helping our youngsters to develop and get better, hopefully that will stand us in good stead for the England team.
A new manager coming in brings a different life, different views, different experiences and can create a different culture - sometimes that's good, sometimes not - but for me, it's exciting to see her come in and see where she's going to help us develop and get better. England, for me, have always been in and around it but not quite good enough, so I'm hoping she will give us that little bit of quality and drive to be better.
What would the panellists like to see in terms of helping former players stay in the game?
Lilly: For the women's game, the support and finance behind it hasn't been that high, so when players are done, there aren't opportunities to coach and make money to have a living, so they go down different avenues. We have a lot of discussions here in the US that we're losing a lot of female coaches. There's not as many as there used to be. I coach grassroots and kids and every time I put on a camp or clinic I try and find women to stand in front of the kids I'm coaching, whether they're boys or girls. It's such a positive thing to have a female in front of them, for girls to see and also for boys to see and show the respect that women can coach and play this game equally.
I've talked with many people about doing female-only coaching courses, just to get the women to come out because it's a very daunting situation when you go to a coaching course and there's 100 people there and only two girls. That's not always the most welcoming or confidence-building situation, so offering female coaching courses would be a step in the right direction. Girls need to stay involved in the game. US Soccer has offered coaching courses for professional players while they're still playing as well.
Chapman: In England we've started to promote this more and more. We have more female managers within our league now. Emma Hayes is a driving force for that and was very in the forefront as one of the most experienced female coaches and she experienced a lot of time in the US. We're doing really well in England to try and drive female coaches forward. I've got boys and I take them to football now and to see women coaching or to see mixed training sessions - my boys play with girls who they think are unbelievable and they talk about it like it's normal - for me as a parent and former female athlete, it's something that's changing and it's great.