The wait is finally over: the Canadian women’s team has a new head coach.
Canada Soccer announced on Wednesday morning that Bev Priestman has been given charge of the senior team, effective Nov. 1.
“I’m extremely privileged, excited and honoured to lead a team who have a rich history in the women’s game. It definitely feels like I’m coming home,” Priestman said on Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
Priestman, a 34-year-old native of Consett, England, is no stranger to the Canadian setup, having spent five years working for Canada Soccer. She previously served as national director of the EXCEL program (for U-15 to U-23 levels) and coached Canada’s women’s youth teams at the FIFA U-17 World Cup twice, as well as the Concacaf U-20 and U-15 Championships.
She also served as an assistant coach under John Herdman during his time in charge of the senior women’s team, having worked with Canada at the 2015 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Since leaving Canada Soccer in 2018, Priestman has worked for England’s women’s football program, serving as coach of the U-18 national team. She also worked as an assistant coach under Phil Neville for England’s senior women’s side, helping them to a fourth-place finish at the 2019 FIFA World Cup.
Priestman’s qualifications include a UEFA A Diploma and she is currently working toward a UEFA Pro License.
Shes takes over from Kenneth Heiner-Møller, who left as women’s team coach this past summer. He’d been in charge since Herdman’s departure in 2018, leading Canada at the 2019 World Cup and the qualification campaign for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The new coach’s first test will be those Tokyo Olympics, which were rescheduled to the summer of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although Priestman only has nine months to prepare for the Olympics, her objective for the Canadian team is clear.
“Two bronzes (in 2012 and 2016) is unbelievable and it’s a fantastic achievement, and credit to John (Herdman) and the staff and the players that achieved that. (But) to keep moving forward, we have to aim higher than that,” Priestman stated.
Priestman believes her familiarity with Canadian program, its players and the team’s staff will prove invaluable.
“I understand the landscape, I understand the country and in many ways, I understand the people in terms of who I’ll be working with,” she said.