Arina Wiegman is a passionate winner who has achieved consecutive victories in the European Championship. She first led her home country, the Netherlands, to victory and then guided England to win in 2022. However, her main focus is not just winning.
On the night before her book What It Takes is published, Wiegman stresses that it is not an autobiography but rather a guide on coaching and leadership.
According to her, fixating on winning is not productive. Instead, one should concentrate on maximizing the chances of winning. This involves considering how to approach the game and how to conduct oneself.
The main focus is on growth and progress. The speaker finds great satisfaction in helping others develop not only as football players, but also as individuals. Connecting with people and constantly evolving is important to her, as the game and the world are constantly changing. Seeing positive results and victories brings her even more joy, although she acknowledges that losing is also a natural part of the game.
One thing that has brought happiness is witnessing the Lionesses utilize their platform to advocate for social change. This includes sending a message to the government after their Euros victory, urging for equal opportunities for sports in schools. However, does she hope for a future where such actions are not necessary?
“We, the current generation, are aware of our roots,” she states. “This team is highly attuned to societal issues and the impact we can have, which is incredibly influential. This serves as tremendous motivation for us…and I believe it will continue to drive us. There will always be societal matters that require attention, regardless of what they may be.”
After the end of the Euro 2022 final match at Wembley, Wiegman walked onto the field and kissed the bracelet on her wrist. She later shared that it belonged to her late sister, who had passed away from cancer just before the tournament. In her book, Wiegman opens up about how her sister’s illness deeply impacted her.
She remembers, “It has been the most sorrowful experience of my life, but it began before I moved to England. Just before the Tokyo Olympics, she was diagnosed with cancer, so during my time in England, her condition deteriorated and we were all aware that the end was near. In May of 2022, we were told that she didn’t have much time left. We cherished that month.”
Wiegman and her sister had a strong bond. As a teenager, her family would journey throughout the Netherlands to bring her to national team practices on Tuesday nights. They also regularly cheered her on at games while she played and coached. Despite having a full-time job at BMW, Diana would assist with managing any inquiries that came Wiegman’s way.
Diana’s ability to travel became more difficult over time. According to Wiegman, she was only able to join the England team for one trip to Luxembourg due to illness. Her father, brother, and Wiegman were able to drive there together, creating a memorable moment. It is unfortunate that Diana was unable to travel to England, but Wiegman recognizes that life has both happy and sad moments, and it’s not always easy.
Wiegman explains that despite the difficult circumstances of navigating England through the home Euros just one month after Diana’s passing, she was able to stay focused on football with the support of the FA. She adds that Diana always encouraged her to be her best and even though she was still processing her grief, she was able to enjoy the tournament and remain driven to succeed. She did have moments of sadness and would sometimes retreat to her room for some quiet time with candles and breathing exercises, but overall her focus remained on the Euros and achieving success.
It was difficult for her to not have her sister with her during the final showdown against Germany. As they were preparing, she suddenly realized that this was not what she wanted. This feeling is completely normal, given the impact and emotions involved. Throughout this time, she knew she could talk to anyone, but she especially relied on Kate Hays, their sports psychologist. Talking about her feelings with her was a relief. The day before the final, they had a conversation and it helped her feel better. During the final, she was able to be in the moment and didn’t need to cry.