The Canadian press

Former Canadian soccer coach Rhian Wilkinson joins the English women’s coaching team

Former Canadian assistant coach Rhian Wilkinson has joined the coaching staff of the English women’s football team. It’s a move the former Canada international could take on her former side at the Tokyo Olympics, even though the coaching setup for Team Great Britain is still ongoing. “I hope that will be part of it, but there is no guarantee that it will,” Wilkinson said in an interview. Wilkinson left Canada Soccer last week, saying she stepped aside to challenge herself and hone her coaching skills – with the aim of coaching Canada in the future. The 38-year-old, who won 181 international matches for Canada as a player, was assistant coach of the women’s senior national team and head coach of the U17 and U20 teams. The Football Association of England said Wilkinson will support former Norwegian midfielder Hege Riise, England’s interim coach. Kay Cossington, the FA’s head of women’s technical development, will also be helping out at a camp in February. Sarina Wiegman is expected to take on the sixth-placed English woman as head coach after leading the Netherlands at the Tokyo Olympics. The FA said both Riise and Wilkinson had agreed to short-term contracts. “I hope I can show what I can,” Wilkinson said in an interview. “If it stays that way and works for Sarina – she has her own people, I haven’t even asked, but it would be nice to learn from one of the best in the game.” Wilkinson already has a relationship with Riise. They played together at Norway’s Strommen, which eventually became LSK Kvinner, where Riise served as assistant and then head coach after his retirement. The 51-year-old Riise, who was named World Footballer of the Year in 1995, won the Olympic Games, the World Cup and the European Championship as a player. “It’s been a long time since we’ve known each other. I’m really looking forward to working with her,” said Wilkinson. Wilkinson will pack quickly. The camp in England starts on February 14th and she must complete the quarantine upon arrival. Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football, said the FA would turn its attention to the Team GB coaching team after the camp. “As soon as February closes, we will sit down and assess the lionesses’ situation and review the next steps for Team GB in consultation with the home countries and the British Olympic Association,” Campbell said in a statement. The English women’s coaching staff has been on the move lately. Head coach Phil Neville has joined Inter Miami in Major League Soccer, while Bev Priestman, his former assistant, took over the Canadian women’s team in November. Wilkinson had replaced Priestman as Canadian youth coach when she returned to her native England in 2018. Priestman offered Wilkinson her best wishes on social media and called the Wilkinson employee “a great appointment”. “I’ll see you on the sidelines soon, my friend,” she added. Another opening for the English staff was planned when Rehanne Skinner went to Tottenham last November. The FA said both Riise and Wilkinson applied for Skinner’s jobs. Neville, a former team-mate of David Beckham, co-owner of Inter Miami at Manchester United, was signed to coach Great Britain at the Olympic football tournament before taking up the MLS job. Wilkinson was also applying for the best Canadian job, but was told it was too early in her coaching career. Priestman asked her to continue, but Wilkinson wanted to challenge herself elsewhere. Wilkinson, a native of Baie-D’Urfe, Que., Who now lives in North Vancouver, played for Canada between 2003 and 2017 and ended with seven goals and 23 assists. Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter.This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 19, 2021. Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press