Sarina Wiegman: 7 inspiring quotes from the England manager’s book

ngland's coach Sarina Wiegman smiles with her medal after the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final
England's coach Sarina Wiegman smiles with her medal after the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

England manager Sarina Wiegman talks about inclusion and visibility in her new biographical playbook, What It Takes. Many fans of women’s football, and the Lionesses in particular, will have certainly received copies during the Christmas period.

Throughout her book, it becomes clear how Wiegman’s motivation for sharing her love of football and its values manifests itself in her decisions. The innate responsibility she inhabits to further women’s football and general female inclusion across all sectors drives her forward.

To celebrate her success as England manager, we’ve highlighted some of the best quotes from What It Takes.

“Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid of making mistakes, because mistakes are part of your growth. Mistakes don’t mean you’re not good enough. It means you’re evolving. You will become the best version of yourself.”

One of the most remarkable elements of Sarina’s ethos is that she makes a point of giving players the freedom to make mistakes. She believes it’s important for the growth of individual players, and subsequently the team, for mistakes to happen.

The Lionesses’ manager emphasises the focus on individual players’ growth for the benefit of the whole team’s development. Allowing mistakes to be made enhances the whole team, leading to bigger results.

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A transparent coach who cares

At heart, the 54-year-old is a coach who cares deeply. Throughout her career, Wiegman embraces feedback from others and actively asks for it from those she works with. Her vulnerability in opening herself up to receive constructive criticism highlights her humble and modest ways.

The three-time FIFA Best Women’s Coach makes a conscious effort to be transparent with each player about what exactly their part is to play with the team. This is regardless of whether the individual is in the starting line-up or otherwise.

The transparency Wiegman has with her players helps build the bonds she likes to have with her team. Wiegman ensures she credits the same deserved attention to the reserve players as well as her starting players. With this, she shows how important their role is in the team and how she values them, reserve or not.

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A determined Wiegman pursued her dream

“I boldly cut off my hair and joined anyway.”

To pursue her dream, Wiegman has had to work tirelessly, making sacrifices along the way. Through it all though, her love for the game is her ‘driving force’.

When Wiegman began playing, women’s football wasn’t recognised by the KNVB, the Royal Dutch Football Association. While playing amongst boys as a child, although it was technically illegal, she remained undeterred. She made the decision to cut her hair in an attempt to remain subtle.

Transitioning from player to coach, Wiegman had to face financial struggles in order to make ends meet. She qualified as a PE teacher, simultaneously working towards her UEFA Pro coaching licence whilst additionally working at the KNVB.

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With the Leeuwinnen, Wiegman won the Women’s Euros 2017 at home in the Netherlands. She went on to take that same team into the final of the 2019 FIFA World Cup. After making the move to England, from one group of lionesses to the other, she took England on to win their home Euros in 2022.

A year later, riding the wave of their historic achievement, Wiegman aided the Lionesses into reaching the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Among these most notable achievements, she has picked up a multitude of various accolades.

Not just a man’s game anymore

“People often wonder if a female coach can lead a men’s team. This question does a disservice to women.”

Many do not give enough credit to Wiegman for taking on the head coach role of the Netherlands’s national team. She herself reflects on how the space she entered was a ‘male-dominated space’. However, she knew the impact it would make for a woman take on the role, something we know she bears in mind.

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“It’s crucial for the future of the game that women have more visibility.”

For Wiegman, it’s about taking action to change the visibility of women not just in football, but in every sector. For example, she recognises how the media is important in doing this. She also encourages her players to interact with the fans. Building the player-fan relationship is important to the England manager. It’s important to her that fans stick around and keep investing in the women’s game.

Wiegman ensures that the values found in sports are shared amongst all. For her, it all adds up to the result of encouraging women to become more involved and take opportunities.

Steps made, but still more to do

“There’s still a lot of work to be done in every profession to improve opportunities for girls and women.”

It’s been considerably harder for Wiegman to achieve the things she has, compared against a male. From the beginning, she has entered into spaces where she is one of few, if not the only, female in the room.

Although times have changed since then, more action is needed to create opportunities for women to be involved. Not just in football but in every sector. Further changes can help to include women and others who are from diverse backgrounds.

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“Inclusivity is not something that can be achieved simply by saying the right things. It requires meaningful actions and a strong commitment to making it a reality.”

Sarina’s belief in this message spurs her on to create change. After the Lionesses won the Euros, they collectively wrote to the UK government. They asked for every young girl in England to have the opportunity to play football at school. These are the changes that need to continue.

Their letter resulted in the government making a multi-million-pound investment. Further ensuring that both girls and boys gain equal access to the sport within schools.

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It can’t be denied that as Wiegman suggests, with success comes impact and reach. That is why it’s important that these kind of role models continue using their platform to make changes. Wiegman believes she has the opportunity to do just this which remains clear whilst reading her book.

“I strongly believe in the power of diversity and inclusion in teams. That is why I will be committing myself fully to creating an environment in which all top athletes and staff have the same opportunities, regardless of their background, culture, gender identity, sexual preference and religion.”

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