Emma Hayes: The Best in Women’s Football

In January, Emma Hayes, the FA WSL club Chelsea Women manager, was named The Best FIFA Women’s Coach for 2021. Hayes beat former Barcelona head coach Lluis Cortes and England boss Sarina Wiegman to win the award.

After winning the award, she said: “The first thing I thought about was that little kid in the orange flats kicking the ball against the wall, commentating on myself in a cup final or leading a team. As a little girl I dreamed of these things. I’ve just had a dream turn into a reality and then I felt instantly embarrassed.”

The 45-year-old took the award after guiding the Blues to a domestic treble and the Champions League final in 2021.
She previously served as the head coach and director of football operations for Chicago Red Stars of Women’s Professional Soccer in the United States from 2008 until 2010.

She was formerly manager of the Long Island Lady Riders between 2001 and 2003, head women’s football coach at Iona College in New Rochelle between 2003 and 2006, and first-team assistant coach and academy director for Arsenal Ladies between 2006 and 2008.

Hayes joined Chicago Red Stars as a manager in 2008. After she was sacked in 2010, she took up a technical director role at Western New York Flash and advised them on transfers, helping to create a team that won the 2011 Women’s Professional Soccer championship.

In August 2012, Hayes was appointed as the manager of Chelsea Women replacing Matt Beard, who is currently the head coach of Liverpool FC Women.

From 2012, she started to build a team step by step. In 2015, the team narrowly missed the 2014 FA WSL 1 title on the final day. After that season, she reinforced the team altogether.

Swedish shot-stopper Hedvig Lindahl and promising England centre-half Millie Bright were among the new recruits. Marija Banusic, Gemma Davison and Niamh Fahey also joined Chelsea, signing from Kristianstads, Liverpool Ladies and Arsenal Ladies, respectively. Later in the season, Hayes won the race for Reading & England forward Fran Kirby for a British record fee.

The 2019–20 and 2020–21 seasons saw her team win back-to-back WSL titles in what were recording-breaking years, following a trophy-less 2018–19 campaign.

Emma Hayes is always striving to make women’s football more competitive and bigger. Thus, footballers will have the equality they deserve.

“It’s all of us that will influence the next level for the game, in terms of making sure people are involved, invested and influenced by it, that the base becomes even bigger. We know when we first started there were only a few of us”, she said.