Vera Pauw: ‘When I tell players they are not going to the World Cup, they hate me’

The women’s national football coach talks to The Women’s Podcast as her side gears for the World Cup in July

Listen | 55:01

“The problem is, as a coach you have to be harsh,” explains Vera Pauw, reflecting on her management style ahead of the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this July.

“When I have to tell players they are not going to the World Cup, they hate me,” she says. “But if you cannot do that, you have to do another job … and in those moments I wish I was doing another job”.

The manager of the Irish women’s team was speaking to podcast presenter Róisín Ingle, during a break from training at the FAI HeadQuarters in Blanchardstown, Dublin. With just weeks to go until the squad fly out to Australia to begin their World Cup campaign - their first match is against the host country on July 20th - is the manager feeling hopeful about Ireland’s chance at winning?

“If we say we are going to win the World Cup, then we can only be disappointed,” the Dutch woman says, acknowledging the tough competition before them. “But we’re going to make you proud”.


It has been a year of highs and lows for Pauw, who last summer spoke out about her rape and sexual assault as a young football player in The Netherlands. Speaking out was “the worst moment of my life, but I had no choice”.

Last October, Pauw led the Irish women’s team to victory against Scotland, earning the side a place in the World Cup - a first for an Irish women’s national team. Speaking about the apology she made after a video emerged of her team chanting ‘ooh ah up the ra’ as part of their post-match celebrations, she said: “As soon as you hurt one person, you have to apologise and you have to stop doing it”.

In this wide ranging conversation, Pauw reflects on the events of the previous twelve months and also looks back on her childhood growing up as a triplet, spending her days “playing football on the street”. “I grew up like a boy, so I acted like a boy,” she says. “My parents just saw me as Vera…they didn’t treat me any different than the boys,” she says.

Pauw also explores how menstruation is managed as part of a player’s training schedule, the similarities she shares with AppleTV’s Ted Lasso and why we should all be cheering on the women in green this summer.

Listen back to this podcast episode in the player above, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Suzanne Brennan

Suzanne Brennan

Suzanne Brennan is an audio producer at The Irish Times