GARETH Evans admitted last night that he was surprised but delighted to have returned to football as the Scotland women’s under-19 coach.
The former Hibs player was sacked as Livingston manager after only a short tenure at the end of February, prompting the Division 1 club’s director of football John Collins to resign. Evans admitted he had consulted his close friend after being invited to apply for the post by Scotland coach Anna Signeul.
Evans and Signeul passed their Pro-Licence together, but he admitted: “This came right out of the blue. I spoke to John and he was all for it. He’s the same ilk as me. Coaching is coaching, and football is football, regardless of gender.”
Evans said he was unable to talk about his unexpected exit from Livingston at the end of February. “They are the ones who put me out of work even although I was winning football matches, but I can’t speak too much about that at the moment,” he said. “Livingston is in the past and this is the future.”
Evans will get the chance to get up to speed on women’s football when he takes in next month’s European Championship in Sweden. His first game is a friendly in Vienna against Austria in August.
The initial qualifying phase for the 2014 Uefa Under-19 Championship starts the following month, but as well as trying to get his sides to the Euro finals, part of his remit will be to liaise with the clubs. He already knows Willie Kirk, who runs the Hibs girls’ youth academy, and is likely to rely on his former club for several players.
These include outstanding prospect Caroline Weir, who is just 17 but came on as a substitute in Scotland’s recent games against Iceland and Germany. “I know three of the under-19 squad were in Iceland a fortnight ago, and two of them also went to Germany for the match there on Saturday,” Evans said.
“For me coaching is all about improvement and making the players the best they can be. My aim is to feed as many as possible into Anna’s team.
“Women’s football is a sport that is growing fast, especially in Scotland at the moment. The way the national team has performed in recent years under Anna’s leadership means people are turning to it more and more.”