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Yalla Shoot :Hannah Dingley: Forest Green Rovers name first female boss of a men’s professional football side

Hannah Dingley on the touchline for Forest Green's academy side
Hannah Dingley has been Forest Green Rovers’ academy manager for almost four years since taking over when the club joined the EFL

Forest Green Rovers have named Hannah Dingley as their new caretaker boss, making her the first woman to manage a professional men’s team in English football.

The League Two side sacked Duncan Ferguson on Tuesday after just six months in charge.

Forest Green announced Dingley, the club’s academy head, would be put in caretaker charge of the first team.

Her first match in charge will be a friendly at Melksham Town on Wednesday.

The 39-year-old said: “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.”

She first joined the club in 2019 to take charge of the academy and remains the only woman to manage a men’s English Football League academy.

Dingley also initiated the club’s girls academy which launched in 2021.

She has a Uefa Pro Licence and previously worked at Burton Albion

“Hannah was the natural choice for us to be first team interim head coach – she’s done a fantastic job leading our academy and is well aligned with the values of the club,” club chairman Dale Vince said

“It’s perhaps telling for the men’s game that in making this appointment on merit, we’ll break new ground – and Hannah will be the first female head coach in English [men’s] football.”

‘More than capable of coaching at a men’s level’

Dingley spoke to BBC Points West in March about breaking down barriers in the sport.

“You’ve got a responsibility as the first to open the doors for others and to encourage others,” she said.

“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.”

She said at the time that she did not think it would be long until a woman took charge of a men’s professional team.

“It will come in sooner than you think,” Dingley said. “The success that the Lionesses are having, that Emma Hayes is having at Chelsea.

“There are others, really good female coaches out there who I have more than faith in would be more than capable of coaching at a men’s level.”

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