England team to monitor menstrual cycles during Euros in bid to ensure peak performance

For the first time at a major tournament, England are using apps to monitor their menstrual cycles to ensure they're at peak performance and reduce injury risk, reports Amy Lewis

No puffa jackets in team meetings and no socks with sliders.

Sarina Wiegman may have given up being a PE teacher years ago, but some habits are clearly hard to shake off.

These are just some of the very specific rules England women’s manager has introduced since she joined the team in September.

With just a fortnight until England host the European Championship, the team has given ITV News behind-the-scenes access and insight into what happens at St George’s Park, the training base that they share with the men’s national side.

Praising Wiegman, Leah Williamson, England's new 25-year-old captain, told ITV News: “She makes you feel comfortable one hundred percent but she’s also someone I wouldn’t want to cross.

"I’ve never seen that side of her, but I think that probably says a lot about the respect that we have for her.”

Wiegman won more than 100 caps for the Netherlands but worked as a teacher alongside her playing career as the women's game wasn’t professional then.

She told me that experience helped shape her management style today: "It was a massive help, you learn so many things about education, about teaching and psychology. Teaching helped me greatly in becoming a better coach.”

Sarina Wiegman said her career as a teacher set her up to become a football manager. Credit: ITV News

She may have swapped lesson plans for team sheets, but education is still at the heart of her work. She is focused on ensuring her players understand and learn more about their bodies.

For the first time at a major tournament, the team are using an app to monitor their menstrual cycle to ensure they are at peak performance on match days and reduce the risk of injuries.

Defender Millie Bright told us the Orreco app is part of a wider player wellbeing programme.

“I think it’s getting to the stage where talking about periods in sport is a normal thing in life and we shouldn’t have to be shamed or hide ourselves or think ‘oh my god’, it’s just part of life,” she said.

Dr Ritan Mehta, England’s doctor, told us: “This is one area where we feel we can help and support and probably haven’t done it over the last five or 10 years as much as we could have done. The research wasn’t there and the understanding wasn’t there.

"The more we know, the more we can implement and the more we can help players feel better and minimise any of those symptoms.”

It is perhaps no surprise Wiegman has introduced radical changes and strict rules.

As a child the former teacher would cut her hair short so she could play alongside boys, because that was banned in the seventies.

As a child, Sarina Wiegman (back row, fourth from left) would cut her hair short so she could play alongside boys. Credit: ITV News

“I think those experiences help you and develop you into who you are now, lots of experiences in your journey make you who you are. And yes, I learned how to fight, and I just loved being involved in football.”

Strict, perhaps, but Wiegman could be England’s answer to winning their first major silverware.

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