Hannah Dingley has been named caretaker manager of League Two team Forest Green Rovers. Although the official season does not start until early August, Dingley’s position with Forest Green Rovers makes her the first female head coach in English Football League (EFL) history. The coach took over at the club following the departure of Duncan Ferguson earlier in the week.

“I’m really excited for this next step of my career,” Dingley proclaimed as she was introduced as caretaker manager. Preseason 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 to lead such a progressive and forward-thinking club.”

Dingley’s first game in charge occurred during a friendly match against Melksham Town on Wednesday. Rovers drew the preseason match 1-1 thanks to a late goal by Callum Jones.

Female Forest Green Rovers coach can inspire young girls

After the game, many fans of the club asked the new coach for pictures and autographs. Dingley received questions about the attention. “Do you know what’s nice about that – the young people who are waiting for things to be signed etcetera – is the amount of girls there are,” replied the coach.

“We want to diversify the crowd at Forest Green, encourage more women and girls to come and watch the men’s and women’s team so actually seeing so many young girls there – Melksham fans or playing for Melksham in their tracksuit tops by the looks of it, fantastic.”

“Hopefully then we are inspiring young girls whether it’s in football or any industry that there aren’t these glass ceilings and, if there are, then you have just got to break through them.”

The coach has been with the club since 2019. Previously, she was in charge of the academy team. Dingley was the first female coach to lead a men’s EFL club academy team. Earlier in the summer, Premier League side Brentford hired former Leicester City women’s manager Lydia Bedford as the head coach of their U18s.

Club owner: ‘Hannah was the most qualified’ coach for the job

Although some have suggested that the move to appoint Dingley was a gimmick, Rovers owner Dale Vance poured cold water on the assertion. “It was a very simple decision,” claimed Vance. “Hannah was the most qualified person at the club for the job. Nothing else came into frame.”

Before moving to the team four years ago, Dingley also coached at current League One side Burton Albion. The coach also currently carries a UEFA Pro License and has helped coach men’s soccer for over 20 years. Rovers currently has four more preseason matches on the fixture list ahead of the 2023/24 campaign. Dingley’s first official league match will come against Salford City on Saturday, Aug. 5.

PHOTO: IMAGO & Pro Sports Images