Emily Lima, a pioneer in Brazil’s dugout

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  • First female to become head coach of Brazil’s women’s team
  • Former winger laced her boots in Brazil, Spain and Italy
  • Takes coaching inspiration from Scolari, Tite, Guardiola and Mourinho.

Emily Lima started playing football at the age of 13 at Saad, one of the first clubs involved in women’s football in Brazil. The former winger’s career took her to Spain, Portugal and Italy before she was forced to hang up her boots when she was just 29 due to a knee injury.

She had never thought about becoming a coach, but her brother Weber’s insistence changed the course of her life.

“My plan had been to work in the administrative side of women’s football,” she explained. “But my brother kept saying I would make a good coach. He thought I should specialise more in the technical side of things. He made me consider it and in 2010 I started working as technical assistant and supervisor at Portuguesa in Sao Paulo. And in 2011 I became CA Juventus coach.”

The players have understood things very well and that motivates us to keep working hard every day.

Emily Lima, Brazil women’s national team coach.

Those were the first steps that led to her becoming the first ever female head coach of Brazil’s women’s national team. She was appointed in November 2016 aged just 36 and has since recorded five wins in as many games in charge.

“It’s all been very positive,” she said. “The players have understood things very well and that motivates us to keep working hard every day.”

Lima is also able to carry out her initial desire for administrative work through supervising Brazil’s national youth teams. “We’ve systemised the work we’re doing throughout the age groups. We’ve now got a universal playing style in order to make the transitions easier.”

Lima is aware that football changes quickly and is constantly learning from her role models: “I’ve liked Felipao [Luiz Felipe Scolari] ever since he was at Palmeiras – the way he dealt with his players and his training caught my eye. And I’ve been following Tite for a long time now. Internationally, I read about Guardiola and Mourinho a lot. What they’ve done is incredible.”

Changes afoot
Indeed, Lima recognises that the changes in football have brought vast improvements: “I can see that everything is much easier for female players now. The majority of my team play their club football outside Brazil. And those that play in Brazil are the best athletes and are primarily at Corinthians or Santos, where they’ve got very good working conditions.”

Nevertheless, there is still plenty of work to do: “I want women’s football to change in this country, and for it to establish itself. Changes are already happening with CONMEBOL, CBF and FIFA, such as making it obligatory for men’s clubs to have a women’s team too. Those are good steps. We should all work together, joining forces with the clubs so that the national team can take another step forward. 

“As women we have to prove every day that we can fulfil roles that have traditionally been held by men. It’s a cultural and social shift, but the barriers are starting to come down and we’re gradually gaining ground.”

Emily Lima’s CV
Playing career

In Brazil: Saad Esporte Clube, Sao Paulo, Sao Bernardo, Barra de Teresopolis and Veranopolis.

In Spain: Estudiantes Huelva, Puebla de la Calzada, Prainsa Zaragoza y Unio Esportiva Lestartit

In Italy: Napoli Yamamay

International career: Brazil U-17, Portugal senior side

Coaching career
Juventus, Portuguesa, Brazil U-17, Brazil U-15, Sao Jose



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