It’s not often that one finds a woman in charge of a men’s team. And if the team happens to be that of FIFA World Cup 2018 finalists, Croatia, the surprise factor only grows up.
Iva Olivari, the first woman to manage the Croatian national soccer team, is indeed a power to reckon with. A top tennis player herself, she became women’s champion in Croatia and the former Balkan country of Yugoslavia at just 14. Since 1992, she has worked with the Croatian Football Federation. In 2012, she was promoted as manager of the national team. A landmark feat, yet she says that the ride to reach here hadn’t been easy for her. She had her share of critics!
In an interview to AFP, she clearly stated that there have been times when she felt discriminated against. Though nothing happened in her face, she did have to hear remarks like – ‘She should not be there, it would be better if it was a man,’ and ‘He would probably do it better, she doesn’t know much about football,’ and stuff like that. But the woman that she is, she always ignored and focused on showing through results.
Iva says she is blessed to be working with a great team. The players’ satisfaction with her as the manager is most crucial to her.
“The guys are fantastic. I love them a lot and they respect me. With the older ones I have a sister-brother relationship, because of age. But now the youngest ones already call me Aunt,” Olivari has reportedly told during several of her interviews.
Beyond her work, she added, she hopes to see more women follow in her footsteps by getting involved in the sport on the business side. “We don’t have to play football to be represented in football,” she explained. “We can do a lot of different things that have any kind of connection, or that have something do with administration, with management of the players, with transfer of players. There’s a lot of stuff that women can do to help and improve the development of football.”
Sure, her words would have inspired many. Another example is Silvia Dorschnerova, serves as a delegate for Spain’s national team. She returns to the world cup 2018 for the fifth time. As a delegate, she is responsible for informing the fourth referee of the personnel changes the team’s coach makes throughout a game. When games aren’t being played, Dorschnerova serves as a liaison between Spain’s coaching staff and FIFA.
Indeed, inspirational for many football enthusiasts. Women are no less and to be able to manage a men’s team, so successfully, is revolutionary in itself.
Here’s wishing both the ladies a lot of luck and hopefully, by the next world cup, we get to see more women in the arena.