MILAN, Italy (Reuters) - United States women’s World Cup winning coach Jill Ellis says she is not ruling out a switch to the men’s game after she stands down from her role next month.
Ellis, who clinched her second World Cup with the win over the Netherlands in July, will take charge of the U.S. team for the final time in a friendly against South Korea in Chicago on Oct. 6.
The 53-year-old said she has not made any decision on her future career path but if she does make the switch, she would become the highest profile female coach to take charge of a men’s team.
Speaking on the margins of a FIFA conference, Ellis said she wanted a “challenge that is going to motivate me”.
“I love challenges, at every juncture in my career I have sort of taken the road less traveled. I love to build things, so we will see,” she said.
“At this point you don’t rule out anything, I think with the men’s game, there are lot of differences, a lot of similarities. The financial part is much, much bigger but the game is the game,” she said.
France’s national women’s team coach Corinne Diacre coached in the men’s second division in her homeland with Clermont Foot.
Ellis said Diacre’s experience, along with women taking differing coaching roles in various sports, showed that the barriers were coming down.
“We have had Corinne, we have had women who have coached men’s teams. I don’t think it I anything out of the realm of comprehension, we have female coaches in the States, in the NBA, in the NFL, I think it is about ability and proficiency not gender,” she said.
The English-born coach, who has been part of the U.S Soccer Federation’s coaching system since 2000, having previously worked at college-level, said she expected her farewell to be moving.
“I am sure, it will be emotional, I will have a lot of friends and family coming, it will mean a lot. It will be moving. I will always have a connection with the players and the staff.
“It will be tough though, there will be a couple of tears maybe. I was always a fan before I took over with this team and I will continue to be so,” she said.
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar