Ireland manager Vera Pauw has paid a glowing tribute to former FAI High Performance Director Ruud Dokter, with Marc Canham expected to be announced as his successor today.
Pauw was speaking as she announced her squad for the crucial World Cup qualifier away to Georgia on June 27. Stephanie Roche has been recalled, while Manchester United’s Diane Caldwell returns from injury and there is also a first call-up for Durham goalkeeper Naoisha McAloon.
Wexford Youths’ Aoibheann Clancy and Ellen Molloy both miss out due to their Leaving Certificate exams, as the squad leave for a training camp in Turkey this afternoon.
Dokter, who vacated his FAI role in December, was a polarising figure in Irish football circles.
Pauw was asked about the good feeling around Irish football at the moment, following positive results for the senior men’s and women’s sides, as well as the U-21 men’s team securing a European Championship play-off. The Ireland manager applauded her compatriot’s achievements after eight years at the FAI.
“I think there is one person who is very proud, that is Ruud Dokter,” said Pauw, who was once Holland captain under Dokter.
“He has set the structures and pathways against all the odds. I know there are different ideas about it, but the results are coming out now. Everybody needs to realise that they are not coming out of the air.
“These are players who were able to develop seamlessly on the pathway that brought them to a top level, both women and men. If you see where our players are now, as soon as a player is developing to a certain level, they’re immediately offered contracts abroad. There are players already at a young age having contracts on their desks. They know the structure is in place and that they have a good base.
“That is really due to Ruud Dokter. I hope he is proud looking from the outside at the results.”
Under the FAI’s three-year strategic plan, the position Dokter held has been changed to Director of Football. The Irish Independent reported last month that Englishman Marc Canham has been chosen for the position, with an official announcement imminent.
“Everybody is looking forward to working with him,” Pauw continued, not naming Canham specifically.
“I’m sure they have chosen somebody who keeps the momentum going, who’s capable of making the next steps. Hopefully, that will bring the game even further. They’ve not been looking at who’s the biggest name, they’ve been looking at who gives us quality input.“
The 39-year-old is currently the Premier League’s Director of Coaching, having previously worked with Bristol Rovers and Bristol City’s academies. His wide-ranging brief will be to develop football in Ireland, at elite and non-elite levels. The FAI’s strategy document also says the Director of Football will “optimise player development and performance of international teams” as well as “review infrastructure for player development on an ongoing basis.”
Canham had spells as a player with Bournemouth and Colchester before spending over a decade playing non-league football in England.
Ireland WNT Squad
Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Megan Walsh (Brighton & Hove Albion), Grace Moloney (Reading), Naoisha McAloon (Durham)
Defenders: Jess Ziu (Shelbourne), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Diane Caldwell (Manchester United), Claire O’Riordan (MSV Duisburg), Jessie Stapleton (Shelbourne), Éabha O’Mahony (Boston College), Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United), Chloe Mustaki (Shelbourne)
Midfielders: Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ruesha Littlejohn (Aston Villa), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City), Ciara Grant (Hearts), Lily Agg (London City Lionesses), Roma McLaughlin (Connecticut Fusion), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City)
Forwards: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Abbie Larkin (Shelbourne), Stephanie Roche (Peamount United), Saoirse Noonan (Shelbourne)