Football Federation Australia (FFA) today announced Ante Milicic has stepped down from the role of Head Coach of Australia’s senior women’s national football team, the Westfield Matildas, and will honour his pre-existing three-year contract with incoming Hyundai A-League club Macarthur FC.
Milicic was appointed to the role of Head Coach of the Westfield Matildas in February 2019, and over the past 18 months oversaw Australia’s successful qualification for the women’s football tournament at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and helped Australia reach the Round of 16 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.
Milicic signed on to become the inaugural Head Coach of Macarthur FC in May 2019 prior to last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™, and while he was due to complete his time with the Matildas at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the rescheduling of the Games to 2021 due to the unprecedented, global COVID-19 pandemic has regrettably forced a decision on Milicic’s coaching future to be made.
“FFA respects Ante’s decision to honour his contract with Macarthur FC,” FFA Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson, said.
“Ante agreed to become Macarthur FC’s inaugural Head Coach prior to last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™, and while FFA extended his time with the Matildas following France after receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from the players and staff, the unfortunate rescheduling of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to July-August next year has meant that a decision had to be reached.
“We would have loved Ante to remain in the role for Tokyo 2020 and beyond, however FFA and Ante agree that overseeing two elite teams is not a workable solution, with both programs deserving of, and requiring, complete focus.
“We acknowledge the increased professionalism that Ante brought to the Westfield Matildas over the past 18 months and wish him well in his time at Macarthur FC. Ante has been a long-serving employee of FFA, working with the Socceroos, multiple youth teams, and the Westfield Matildas, and he departs the organisation with our thanks for his many contributions to the game.
“Assistant Coach Ivan Jolic and Technical Analyst Kate Cohen will also depart FFA to join Macarthur, and we acknowledge their contributions to the team and FFA throughout their respective tenures,” he said.
Outgoing Westfield Matildas Head Coach Milicic said he’ll look back on the past 18 months with the team as some of the fondest of his career, having had the chance to mentor and build bonds with Australia’s top female footballers.
“I have enjoyed the past 18 months with the Matildas immensely and, in an ideal world, we would have been in Japan right now just days away from the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” Milicic explained. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and the rescheduling of the Games has created the unenviable situation where people will assess whether I have chosen one team over another.”
“Truth be told, I have simply chosen to honour the commitment I made to Macarthur over a year ago, and hope that the Matildas’ players, staff, and fans, many of whom I have grown close with, will accept that.”
“Coaching the Matildas has been a highlight of my career – they are a great team made up of fantastic players and people, and they all have so much to look forward to and work towards. I will be following their progress individually and as a team over the next few years with interest, and look forward to watching them in Tokyo, at the Women’s Asian Cup in India in 2022, and at the FIFA Women’s World Cup here in Australia in 2023,” he said.
FFA will immediately commence the recruitment process for a new Head Coach of the Westfield Matildas.
Johnson added: “We expect there will be no shortage of interest in this prestigious role, particularly given all that the team has on the horizon. This will be a crucial appointment and we therefore must focus on putting in place a robust and objective process to ensure the best credentialed candidate is appointed to help the Matildas maximise their potential ahead of, and at, the 2021 Olympics, 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup and the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.”