New Ireland WNT manager Vera Pauw. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
new boss

New Ireland boss Pauw enthused by 'philosophy of working within the FAI'

Ex-Dutch coach Vera Pauw was unveiled as the new Ireland women’s manager at a press conference this afternoon.

NEW IRELAND WOMEN’S National Team manager Vera Pauw is relishing the challenge of taking charge for the Euro 2021 qualifying campaign. 

The ex-Dutch coach’s appointment was confirmed by the FAI this morning, with Colin Bell’s successor unveiled at a press conference in Abbotstown this afternoon. 

It was announced that the agreement runs for one campaign: up until the Euro 2021 finals in England, where the Girls in Green will be hoping to reach a first-ever major tournament.

“It’s a very talented team,” Pauw said after watching her new side beat Montenegro 2-0 at Tallaght Stadium last night in their campaign opener. “It’s the philosophy of working within the FAI that really suits me.

“There’s a management that convinced me why working with this team would be so brilliant. I know the team already from the World Cup campaign because they were in a group with the Netherlands.

I was really impressed at the progress that they made under previous management. Congratulations to them because it’s a base that is fantastic that I can work on. I would always acknowledge that.

“I’ve spoken with a few players at length this morning already, last night I was introduced to them. Their will to learn and their will to qualify for the first time ever is so big and I’m very proud to be part of that journey.”

Pauw has formerly manager Scotland, Russia, South Africa and American club side Houston Dash as well as the Netherlands, and as a player, earned 89 caps for her native Holland.

Without her backroom staff in place yet, the 56-year-old explained how the FAI’s High Performance Director, Ruud Dokter — her former manager as she captained the Netherlands — first reached out to her about the job. 

“I think the steps that management took to get me here show that there’s real intentions indeed,” she continued, “I’m very proud of that.

Ruud called me and I said, ‘Well, we can always talk but I’m going on my holidays tomorrow for a week to Austria, if you want to come to Frankfurt because we’re planning to stay over there.’ In five minutes, I got a text message, ‘Is 11 o’clock okay?’”

From there, FAI President Donal Conway, and Interim General Manager Noel Mooney flew to Frankfurt the day before Mooney and his wife had their first baby to meet the potential candidate.

“I was really impressed that they did that,” she added. “That talk took four hours. We were speaking about the situation in Ireland in a very honest way, not making it better than it is and showing the potential of football here and women’s football in general.”

Pauw didn’t shy away from the well-documented problems of the FAI and the women’s team strike two years ago throughout the press conference, answering questions on a wide-range of topics.

I knew that already,” she said when the strike was put to her, before looking down at her new tracksuit with a grin. “I’ve changed in the toilets.

“Other aspects are important. It’s not whether you chose as a player to change or whether you go with what the FAI offers you to go to in a hotel. Like me, I could go back to my hotel to change but I chose to change in the toilet. That’s with everything. 

“If the game is to develop, you need to be creative in every step that you take. That has nothing to do with the quality of your programme. That has to do with you as a coach, to create the perfect circumstances to learn and to reach a higher level. That’s my task and that’s why I’m here.”

inpho_01599123 Pauw with Noel Mooney and Ruud Dokter at today's press conference.

While Bell noted as he departed for Huddersfield that he wasn’t confident the FAI can give the necessary resources to the women’s game and that “progress in and around the women’s game is just going too slow”, Pauw noted:

“The Netherlands started off at a much lower level than where Ireland is now. In the Netherlands I did not have any budget at all. The budget here is much higher than what we had there.

“If you need more than is available — in women’s football a realistic budget is always there — all that can be organised. I’m very impressed by that. If we need more, we need to be creative and find solutions in that.

Just going for equal things, the same as men, is not always what a team needs to make the next step. But equal opportunities, an equal approach, equal status and equal respect, that is what the game needs, and that’s what I have.

Her new role, which also focuses on developing the women’s game on these shores, will see Pauw travel quite a lot to track the progress of players abroad and stay in hotels while in Ireland.

She’ll work closely with former manager and Head of Women’s Football, Sue Ronan, with Pauw’s focus on bringing the national team to the next level.

And that new chapter began last night at Tallaght under the watchful eye of interim boss, Tom O’Connor.

“It’s a tremendous start,” Pauw added of the win. “Starting the campaign in the circumstances they did is not an easy job to do.

“Scoring so early in the game was of course fantastic but you have the chance that the opposition would have one outbreak or one counter-attack and you could lose points.

“The relief with the second goal was huge, of course, so job done. And very well done. Congratulations to everybody. Let’s move on from there.”

Ireland’s next group clash next month is “immediately a crucial game” where “winning is the key thing” against second-seed side Ukraine.

And not to get ahead of ourselves, but what about getting to the finals across the water in England? And finally reaching a first-ever major tournament?

“It would be fantastic, wouldn’t it?” Pauw smiled. “It’s major.

There’s always pressure in top sport. I don’t care about pressure. Pressure is on the manager’s shoulder, always, and it shows the level that you’re at if there’s pressure. That is something you need to be very, very proud of.

“The pressure has been there all the time. The previous management in Colin [Bell] and Tom [O'Connor] has done such a tremendous job that we can build on we that and focus on the strategy to win against Ukraine instead of taking care of all the basic stuff.

“I’m really thankful for that and will appreciate and acknowledge that throughout the whole campaign.” 

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