Johan Djourou becomes coordinator of the women’s national football team

The former national player will become the sports coordinator of the women’s national senior team. He is committed to women’s football, not least because of his daughters.

Johan Djourou was amazed when his 12 and 14 year old daughters told him they wanted to play football. Not just play, but become professionals. Before that, they had no interest in the sport, “they had no idea about the sport or coordination,” says Djourou, “but they had this sparkle in their eyes.” From then on, he went out onto the pitch with them every day. The advantage is that he teaches them many details of the game that they would otherwise have to learn over years, says the 37-year-old.

These details, the little tricks and secrets from a long international career at clubs like Arsenal or Hamburger SV, will no longer only benefit Djourou’s daughters. Djourou has been the sports coordinator of the women’s national team since the beginning of July and is also the project manager of the Footura+ stimulus program, which supports the players individually in their needs on the way to the 2025 European Championships at home.

Djourou is coach of a girls’ team in Geneva

Djourou is the next notable addition to the women’s football team under director Marion Daube. In January, the Swiss Football Association (SFV) appointed the renowned coach Pia Sundhage from Sweden as national coach, followed in March by the German world champion and world footballer Nadine Angerer as goalkeeping coach. Everyone was attracted by the prospect of achieving something with the home team at a European Championship. There are no great earning opportunities at the Swiss association.

Djourou says: “I’m in a position where I don’t just have to work for the money, but also with my heart.” He first came into contact with women’s football during his time at Arsenal between 2004 and 2013, then he started promoting his daughters, and for the past year he has also been the coach of the U15 women’s team at FC Lancy in his hometown of Geneva. It can only be good for women’s football that men with big names also make it a priority and do not see it as a stopgap solution in their careers.

The role and skills of the 76-time national player in the SFV are of course intended to grow; they are not rigidly defined. That is how the position came about in the first place. Djourou kept in touch with his friend Vincent Cavin, who was assistant coach to the men’s national coach Murat Yakin until the end of 2023. Finally, Djourou submitted his CV “just like that” when the women’s national team was looking for a new coach last autumn.

This position was out of the question because Djourou was still working on his coaching license. But those in charge, including director Daube, recognized Djourou’s commitment to women’s football. When the Federal Council initially only allocated 4 million francs instead of 15 million francs for the 2025 European Championship in February, the former defender campaigned in Geneva for an increase in federal funds with a petition. Djourou and the association remained in contact.

Pia Sundhage remains in the lead, Djourou is to be a link

Djourou acts as a link between the players and the staff, something that has been missing so far. The players should feel that they are being taken care of, and the sociable Djourou seems to be a suitable candidate for this. As a professional footballer, clubs and teammates valued him for his social skills. The French-speaking Swiss’s multilingualism is another plus. The national coach Sundhage still makes the sporting decisions, but she is open to suggestions. She has asked Djourou to train with her and to describe his impressions to her.

Sundhage, 64, is confident and experienced enough to accept other opinions. Shortly after taking office, she said that one of the best tips for her career was not to surround herself with people who said exactly the same thing. She has relied on the same two assistants for years.

With the new additions, the women’s national team is well positioned one year before the start of the European Championship on July 2, 2025 in Basel. In sporting terms, after three wins and one defeat, they are close to being promoted back to the Nations League A. The Swiss women still need one point from the games against Turkey on Friday and Azerbaijan on Tuesday.

This also marks the end of the first round of European Championship qualification, and eight other countries will qualify alongside host Switzerland. The remaining seven participants will be determined in a two-part knockout format with home and away matches until December.

Unlike Sundhage and Angerer, Djourou’s contract is not limited to the end of the European Championship. He is intended to advance women’s football in the long term. The French-speaking player is convinced that there is still potential here, especially in early training. In improving the understanding of the game, for example, in technical development, but also physically.

When he trains speed, explosiveness and sprints with the girls at FC Lancy, he often hears that it is not possible to do that with girls. “The mentality, the culture has to change,” says Djourou. Then women’s football will really explode.

By Editor

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