Gemma Grainger: Manager's contract extended as popularity of Welsh women's football increases

  • Gemma Grainger reflects on Wales' departure from the World Cup campaign and what she intends for the team in the future

Wales women's football manager, Gemma Grainger, has had her current contract extended.

She will remain as head coach until 2027 and will guide the team through to the Euros in 2025 as well as the World Cup two years after that.

Grainger was first appointed to the position in 2021.

It comes after a successful 2022 for the side both on and off the pitch, which saw a record crowd of 15,200 watch Wales beat Bosnia and Herzegovina in the World Cup First Round Play-offs at Cardiff City Stadium.

During that campaign, under the leadership of Grainger, Wales finished second in their World Cup qualifying group and reached a play-off final for the first time - where they eventually lost 2-1 to Switzerland in Zurich.

A late goal from Switzerland in October meant that Wales' dreams of qualifying for the 2023 World Cup were over. Credit: PA

Looking ahead to the next few years, Grainger said she is excited about the future.

"For me, I'm an ambitious coach and these are ambitious players, the FAW are ambitious and that's a great match," she explained.

"For me to commit to this longterm plan and for us to be able to look at that longer-term planning is a real opportunity and one that I couldn't turn down."

Grainger also said she realises the big impact that the national side is having on inspiring the next generation of young footballers.

She said: "From an off-pitch perspective, a 52% increase in girls participation in the last three seasons, that's a huge success for us as a team and this team needs to take a huge amount of credit for that, the players and the staff.

"We broke the attendance record three times in the previous qualification campaign, that's huge because creating meaningful social change in this country is as important as qualifying for the major tournaments.

"So if we can do that and we can live it and breathe it, we want to inspire young girls and young boys so to continue that momentum off-pitch is just as important on pitch."

The CEO of the FAW, Noel Mooney said the Women's national team has made huge strides and the focus now is on qualifying for the Euros and the World Cup.

Mr Mooney said: “This group has captured the imagination of the Welsh public and we have no doubt they will break new glass ceilings for Welsh football in the coming years."

FAW Chief Football Officer David Adams added: "Gemma has demonstrated her ability to effectively develop this talented team, and during the World Cup qualification campaign we have seen tremendous progress both on and off the field.

“We are confident Gemma can continue this process as we aim to qualify for the Women’s European Championships and use this as a catalyst to continue to increase participation across Cymru."

Reflecting on the 2022 World Cup Grainger said it was hard to go out in the way they did but there are lots of positives to take from the tournament.

Grainger says it's now time to focus on the Euros in 2025 and going as far as they can in the competition. Credit: PA

She said: "When you get that close it's particularly hard because you know the margins are at the highest level.

"We over-achieved when we look at that campaign and where we are ranked and the number of places that are available.

"We got so close but so close isn't good enough for us, it's not good enough for me, we want to make sure that our ambitions are clear and we want to qualify. So we've reviewed what it takes to win, how do we take the steps as a team because that momentum for us is so important.

"In Europe particularly UEFA, we know that there is so much competition and we want to be right at the top of that competition and focus on that."

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