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  • Writer's pictureLuke Powell

Forest Green breaking more boundaries

The ‘greenest club in the world’ challenges the norm in appointment of Dingley

We’ve seen many male coaches take the reins of women’s sides, and now it’s time for change as more history is made.

Forest Green Rovers have appointed Hannah Dingley as their caretaker boss as she becomes the first woman to take charge of a men’s professional team in English football. This ground-breaking move comes after the League Two side sacked Duncan Ferguson on Tuesday after just six months in charge.

And, the 39-year-old is looking forward to taking charge of the side saying: “I’m really excited for this next step of my career. Pre-season has just begun, and the full season kicks off very soon.

“It’s an exciting time in football. I am grateful for the opportunity to step up and lead such a progressive and forward-thinking club.” - via the BBC.

The appointment of Dingley is a further indication of the approach taken by the club to reflect the changing times and the progress made in recognising the quality of female coaching coming through. The club’s academy head coach will take charge of her first match tonight against Melksham Town in a friendly, and is further evidence of the need to run the club in a sustainable way utilising an already existing resource to hand.

Forest Green labelled ‘the greenest football Club in the world’ by FIFA are doing everything they can to tackle the climate crisis, and this bold move challenges the norm in offering an opportunity to a female to take charge of a men’s professional side for the first and probably not the last time. Hopefully this will only encourage more clubs to do the same as the women’s game grows evermore and barriers to taking on roles in the men’s game are reduced.

Owner Dale Vince isn’t afraid to stand out and be bold with his decisions, as Forest Green become a likeable and favourable club for many. The League Two side started its journey to becoming the first carbon-neutral football club in 2010 when Vince took over.

The owner of the Gloucestershire-based side looks to drive society forward tackling the climate crisis, and how he tackles women’s involvement in the men’s professional game and may spark others to do the same in the future.

It was the obvious appointment for chairman Vince it seems, as he said: “Hannah was the natural choice for us to be the first team interim head coach. She’s done a fantastic job leading our academy as is well aligned with the values of the club.

“It’s perhaps telling for the men’s game that in making this appointment on merit, we’ll break new ground.”

Dingley has been Forest Green Rovers’ academy manager for over almost four years since taking over when the club joined the EFL. Although only an interim manager, we’ll have to see how long she gets, but, she's got her chance and not long after discussing breaking down barriers in the sport to BBC Points West in March.

She said: “You’ve got a responsibility as the first to open the doors for others and encourage others.

"You always say if you don't see it, you're probably not going to be it. The fact that I do this I hope it encourages more females to come into coaching, into football, into different roles. I feel a great responsibility to talk about that.

“It will come sooner than you think,” Dingley said, and now she’s the first woman in history to take charge of a men’s professional side.

She and Forest Green are a driving force for change, and it’s great to see barriers being broken down. We’ll see if Dingley is the first of many and how she’ll get on in charge of the Green.

May we see more women coaches on the side-lines of men’s games in the future? What do you think of the appointment Forest Green fans?

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