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It’s magnificent 7 for coach Hayes

Camden-born Chelsea boss’s side win Super League axed by virus

12 June, 2020 — By Catherine Etoe

Emma Hayes (centre) after guiding Chelsea to a 1-0 victory over Man United in the semi-final of the Continental Cup – they beat Arsenal 2-1 in the final

EMMA Hayes was in seventh heaven this week as her Chelsea side were crowned Women’s Super League champions.

And the double-winning coach insisted that her Camden roots helped her to keep her feet firmly on the ground.

Hayes, a former Parliament Hill School pupil who used to kick a ball around Camden Town’s Curnock Street estate as a kid, had already steered the Blues to Continental Cup glory with a victory over Arsenal in February.

A high-scoring side bolstered by the mid-season arrival of Australian striker Sam Kerr, Chelsea were flying in the league this term too, unbeaten against all-comers including title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City.

With the season prematurely ended by the coronavirus outbreak, none of the top-flight teams could take the final league placings as a given, but on Friday head coach Hayes was able to tell her players during a Zoom call they had won the title on a points-per-game basis.

That FA decision means the 43-year-old, who oversaw her 200th Blues game and won three Manager of the Month gongs during this campaign, has now packed seven major titles into her club’s trophy cabinet since 2015.

“I always say whenever we win something it’s a relief,” Hayes told the New Journal. “It’s always the first feeling you get because the pressures and demands to win things are great in any instance, but to keep doing it means you have to raise your levels to places you haven’t been, and that takes effort.”

With a career that has seen her manage professionally in America and win every domestic trophy and a European title as Vic Akers’ assistant at Arsenal, Hayes says she has always had an “unwavering belief” in her coaching abilities.

But the Pro-Licence holder, who first spoke to the New Journal about her ambitions in the game 19 years ago when she quit a sports development role with Camden Council for a coaching job Stateside, says she still counts her blessings.

“It’s probably the first time I’ve reflected backwards in my career and maybe being a mother has changed that, but I’m like, ‘I’ve won seven titles with Chelsea, how quickly has that time gone?’ I’m blessed and grateful for them too,” she said.

“You know where I grew up, so I never take it for granted.”

Hayes, who still enjoys walking on Hampstead Heath and counts her former “Parli” PE teacher Debbie Ramm-Harpley as a go-to mentor, adds that her upbringing has helped make her the coach she is today.

“I think Camden has had a massive impact on who I am,” she said.

“I’m a good leader. I put that down to living in Camden, having my wits about me, growing up in and around the streets and the flats – it gave me a great grounding for the profession I have.”

Dismissing links with the vacant England job but admitting that she would “one day” like to coach in the men’s game, Hayes will now turn her attention to the one crown that has eluded her as Chelsea boss – the Champions League.

Cheering her on will be her family, including two-year-old son Harry, and her biggest critic and supporter – dad Sid – who is a big fan of the squad she has assembled in this, her eighth year in charge of Chelsea.

“I love coaching, leading and teaching people on a daily basis,” Hayes added. “I’ve found the perfect life for myself and I’ve found a great club.”

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