Women's Football

Mentor and mentees make the most of Madrid meeting

  • Jorge Vilda welcomed Epifania Benitez and Beatriz Vaz e Silva to Madrid
  • Vist part of the FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme
  • "The aim of the programme is for them to become better coaches"

A male coach, a female coach, and a female assistant coach, spending seven days together at first-rate facilities: that is what happened when Spain’s women’s boss Jorge Vilda opened the doors of the country’s national team base, the Ciudad del Fútbol, to Epifania Benitez of Paraguay and Beatriz Vaz e Silva of Brazil.

The three were brought together by the FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme, which has been up and running since October 2018, and have several more get-togethers scheduled as part of this global strategy.

Mentor : Jorge Vilda

Coach of Spain’s national women’s team

  • Started out as Spain’s U-17 women’s team coach in 2010
  • Appointed national U-19 women’s coach in 2013
  • Stepped up to senior post in 2015
  • Won the Algarve Cup in 2017
  • Won the Cyprus Cup in 2018
  • Shortlisted for The Best FIFA Women’s Coach in 2018

Mentees: Epifania Benitez and Beatriz Vaz e Silva

Became Paraguay national women’s youth team coach in 2017
Currently the nation’s senior and U-20 women’s teams coach
Won the Copa America Feminina as a player in 2014
Now an assistant coach to Brazil boss Pia Sundhage

After making two recent visits to Paraguay to pass on his knowledge, Vilda was back on home soil this time, making the most of a team-building get-together for Spain’s U-16 women’s side to deliver an integrated training plan to his two students.

On the agenda were a series of practical sessions that involved watching the youth team train, visits to Spanish first division clubs, and a session on theory training. While Vilda took charge of the technical/tactical components of the classes, the members of his coaching staff gave individual instruction on fitness training, analysis and technology.

“The aim is for them to leave here feeling that they are better coaches,” Vilda told FIFA.com. “We’re showing them methodology and pointing out how Spain teams like to play. What I want is for them to go away with an accurate picture of Spanish women’s football as a whole.”

Epifania Benitez, Beatriz Vaz and Jorge Vilda meet as part of FIFA's Coach Mentorship Programme in Madrid, Spain

“We are learning a lot from our teacher,” said Epifania Benitez, the first female coach to lead Paraguay to a major tournament, a feat she achieved at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018. “The FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme has helped us open our minds. We are seeing some amazing things that will be well worth replicating in our future training sessions.”

“This is a unique opportunity in our lives,” said Beatriz Vaz e Silva, a former Brazil player who is now an assistant coach to the country’s women’s team boss Pia Sundhage. “Jorge has been very helpful in showing us how they work and how they see football. My main objective is to learn as much as I can from professionals like Jorge so that I can help Pia.”

Epifania and Beatriz hail from South America, a part of the world with its own unique take on the game, a factor that is also helping them to develop and understand the game.

“Every school of football has its own characteristics and ways of trying to win,” said Vilda in reference to the potential of the women’s game on the other side of the Atlantic. “We can take things from CONMEBOL football that will help us improve. The youth game in South America is competitive and they’re bringing through players with talent.”

“Each confederation and country have their own way of working, although it goes without saying that you also pick things up from other teams,” said Benitez. “I’m improving in terms of running with the ball and receiving passes, which are things we have to work on in the Paraguay team.”

Her Brazilian training colleague shared that view: “Any knowledge we can take back to Brazil about new methods and options will be very meaningful for us.”

Epifania Benitez and Beatriz Vaz meet as part of FIFA's Coach Mentorship Programme in Madrid, Spain

A bright future

So what do Benitez and Vaz make of their FIFA Coach Mentorship Programme experience?

“South America is developing,” said Benitez. “The next step is just to keep on working. The girls who are coaching today are not scared of fulfilling their dreams anymore. Those dreams are coming true for many of them.”

“We’re better than we were before we started this training process,” commented Vaz. “There’s a whole book waiting to be written on women’s football. Having instructors like Jorge [Vilda] and Pia [Sundhage] is just invaluable, and it will be great to go back to Brazil and talk about everything I’ve learned here.”

Rounding things off, Vilda said: “I’m very happy with how it’s gone. They can use a lot of the drills with their national teams. FIFA is committed to developing coaches and we’ll keep on working and training them in the future.”

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