Leon Birnie has been appointed women’s U-20 head coach to lead the team heading into the 2024 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Birnie takes on the role after two World Cup cycles as women’s U-17 head coach, including leading the team to a historic 3rd place finish at the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay.
He replaces Gemma Lewis who left the role last year to return to the United Kingdom. Lewis was also head coach of the inaugural Wellington Phoenix women’s team.
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Main photo: Leon Birnie … had success with the national U-17s team. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Looking forward to the 2024 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup
“I’ve loved my time with the U-17s so I’m excited to start with the U-20s as we work towards the 2024 U-20 Women’s World Cup,” Birnie said.
“I’m fortunate that I will get to continue working with players I had at U-17 level but also look forward to working with the Football Ferns and age group staff to identify new and emerging talent.
“With COVID-19 having a major impact on the last World Cup cycle, I’m looking forward to having a full campaign with the players as we work together to show what we can do on the international stage.”
Andy Boyens, Technical Director at New Zealand Football, said:
“Leon has great experience at international level and a vast knowledge of the New Zealand football landscape so is the perfect person to lead our U-20 programme.
“With the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Aotearoa New Zealand this year, and the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup next year, this is an exciting time to be a young female footballer.”
Decision to be made soon on U-17 Women’s head coach
An announcement on the women’s U-17 head coach role is set to be made next month.
New Zealand Football are currently working with High Performance Sport New Zealand on the potential for a broader full-time role that will include the women’s U-17 head coach responsibilities.