Football Ferns appoint new head coach for next two World Cup campaigns

New Zealand’s Football Ferns will have a woman in charge for their next two World Cup campaigns.

NZ Football have confirmed the appointment of former Czech Republic defender and international coach Jitka Klimková (pictured) to the role of Football Ferns head coach till the 2027 FIFA World Cup.

She becomes the 21st coach of the team since New Zealand first entered the international arena in 1975.

Only two previous appointments have been women but they were temporary appointments. Nora Watkins took the team for two games in 1995 while Ali Grant and Wendi Henderson worked as co-coaches under the direction of Paul Smalley for two games in 2004.

Jitka Klimková’s appointment is a clear signal that it’s time for change with the Ferns, especially ahead of the 2023 FIFA World Cup Finals which will be co-hosted in Australia and New Zealand.

She replaces Tom Sermanni who completed his tenure with the Ferns at the Tokyo Olympics.

Klimková comes well qualified and with international experience, as well as previous roles with New Zealand’s age group squads.

She is a UEFA Pro Licence holder and W-League winner with Canberra United. She was head coach of the New Zealand Women’s U-17s at the FIFA 2014 U-17 Women’s World Cup and has served as assistant coach to the Women’s U-20s and the Football Ferns.

Klimková was appointed the United States Women’s U-19 coach in 2015, and was part of the wider staff of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning USWNT.

She was head coach of the United States Women’s U-20 side at the FIFA 2018 U-20 Women’s World Cup.

“We’re delighted to appoint a coach of Jitka’s calibre to lead the Football Ferns into preparations for the home 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and beyond,” says New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell.

“A familiar face to many in the Football Ferns having previously served as head coach of the U-17s and as assistant coach of the U-20s and senior Football Ferns, she has a real understanding of New Zealand’s football ecosystem.

“Jitka has a real love for Aotearoa, is a passionate coach, a very strong communicator, and experienced across a range of international football systems. Her experiences here, in Australia – where she won the W-League and was honoured as coach of the year – and in the United States in the US Soccer system make her amply equipped to prepare the Football Ferns for the 2023 and 2027.

“We look forward to welcoming Jitka as she moves back to Aotearoa.”

Klimková is delighted to be returning to New Zealand.

“I’m so honoured and proud to be the Football Ferns’ head coach,” she says.

Meanwhile, Sermanni’s departure also marked the end of assistant coach Owain Prosser’s time with the side, as the Oceania Football Confederation head of high performance and education brings eight years of coaching with New Zealand Football sides, from age group through to the Football Ferns, to a close.

A minute with Klimková

A few words from the new Football Ferns coach: