Powell takes on pioneering role for female coaches

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The Independent Football

The players may be female but, when it comes to the managers, the Women's World Cup is a man's game.

England's Hope Powell is one of six female bosses at the 16-team tournament with most teams opting for a male despite the last two winning coaches being female.

One of them, Silvia Neid, will again coach Germany. Canada's coach is Carolina Morace, who briefly managed Serie C men's team Viterbese in Italy, and the United States, Nigeria and Norway are also coached by women.

This is a significant increase on the first World Cup, in 1991, when only Sweden's coach was female, but there was also only one female referee then – this time all 16 officials are women.

There is an even greater discrepancy in England's domestic game with only two of the eight WSL clubs, Arsenal and Everton, managed by women. No one pretends the fact she is female was not a major consideration in the appointment of Powell, who had no management experience at the time, but after a difficult start, it is generally accepted she has grown into the role and done a good job, especially in the wider sense of developing the women's game.

She said: "Does it matter if the coach is a woman? Fifteen years ago, I would have said 'no', today I say 'yes'. In terms of role models, it is important for women who enjoy coaching to be able to think 'this is something I can aspire to'. It is the same as young girls walking around with the names of Karen Carney, Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey on the back of their shirts, rather than Michael Owen, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney."

There is one other English manager at the tournament, New Zealand's John Herdman. There is also an English referee's assistant, Lancashire's Natalie Walker. In World Cup head-to-heads between male and female coaches, the women lead 28-11.