The tactically astute supervisor who constructed OL Reign from the bottom up

90min is championing 10 influential girls in soccer this International Women’s Day.

Laura Harvey was one of many NWSL’s first-ever managers, constructing OL Reign into one of the aggressive and widely-followed golf equipment within the United States.

Harvey’s temporary taking part in profession included appearances for Wolves and Birmingham City however was minimize brief at simply 22 years previous resulting from a cruciate ligament harm. She determined to show to teaching and since then has had a meteoric rise.

After her harm, Harvey grew to become the assistant coach at Birmingham City whereas additionally working as an assistant for England’s Under-17, Under-19, and Under-23 groups. She later grew to become Birmingham City’s head coach earlier than being requested to affix Arsenal.

After two years as an assistant coach with the Gunners, Harvey stepped as much as handle the staff, a interval which she described as “troublesome.”

“Arsenal was the toughest surroundings for me to know. The most pressured. The highest by way of expectations… I used to be 29 years previous. I’d been buddies with a few of these gamers.

“I attempted to vary: to return throughout as this extra authoritative individual. But it’s not who I’m. The gamers noticed straight by means of it. ‘What are you doing? You’re a superb coach. You see the sport. Tactically you’re excellent: that’s what we want from you. Do that.'”

After Harvey received over her preliminary fears of main the staff, she was in a position to information the staff to a league title. Her subsequent season in cost, the Football Association launched the Women’s Super League as a technique to make the league extra aggressive.

“That was my staff discuss for the season accomplished. Everyone desires us to lose. Are we gonna enable that to occur?”

Arsenal celebrate scoring with Laura Harvey after scoring in the Conti Cup final against Birmingham

Arsenal have a good time scoring with Laura Harvey after scoring within the Conti Cup closing towards Birmingham / Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

In the inaugural season of the WSL, Arsenal went on to win the treble underneath Harvey. Her high-press system meant that the facet solely suffered two defeats the entire season.

Her model of play garnered consideration from America, and when Seattle Reign (now referred to as OL Reign) requested if she needed to be the membership’s first ever coach within the newly fashioned NWSL, Harvey determined to tackle the problem.

Reign was a very totally different mission for Harvey than her earlier endeavors. She got here to Arsenal understanding what the expectations have been for her at an already established membership. However, in America, she was constructing a membership from the bottom up.

The early days have been powerful for Seattle Reign. Injuries and fluke objectives meant that Harvey solely managed a solitary level in her first ten video games in cost.

“I used to be doing every part – technique, preparation – no totally different to Arsenal. But whether or not it was an personal aim or a handball within the final minute, nothing was going our manner. Nothing… It was the darkest interval of my life.

“What enabled us to get by means of it was that we knew we have been doing the suitable issues. And we knew we have been actually shut, as a result of we have been dropping video games by the odd aim. We have been aggressive. We simply wanted to catch a break.

“June 26 2013 was the day our luck lastly modified. We beat Boston Breakers 2-1 and everyone cried. Players, workers, each single individual. All the emotion got here pouring out. That night time, we celebrated like we’d gained the World Cup.”

After a tricky first season, Harvey led the Seattle Reign throughout an unbeaten a run of 16 video games. In her 4 years on the membership, she gained the NWSL Shield twice making her the NWSL Coach of the Year for each the 2014 and 2015 season.

After a brieft stint on the Utah Royals, Harvey spent a while with the United States girls’s nationwide staff as an assistant and as head coach of the United States Under-20’s staff earlier than returning to Reign in 2021.

“I really feel like there’s some unfinished enterprise left to do right here,” Harvey stated upon her re-arrival to the newly renamed OL Reign. “I believe that the tradition that has been set there and continues to thrive is one the place everybody desires the identical factor – to go on the market and put a product on the sector that everybody may be happy with.

“I believe it’s all about constructing on the foundations which can be already there and getting the gamers ready the place they will present their true potential as people and as a staff.”

In her second spell on the membership, Harvey has already gained one other NWSL Shield and an NWSL Coach of the Year award in addition to the Women’s Cup.

OL Reign's Megan Rapinoe shakes hands with Laura Harvey

OL Reign’s Megan Rapinoe shakes arms with Laura Harvey / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Ahead of the 2023 season, which kicks off on the finish of the month, she has her sights set on bringing house the membership’s first ever NWSL Championship, the winner of the one elimination match among the many high six groups within the closing standings on the finish of the NWSL season.

Harvey got here near profitable it twice throughout her first interval at Reign, ending runner-up in 2014 and 2015.

“If I’m trustworthy, they’re why I’m nonetheless right here [in America]. I need to win that Championship. I desperately need to win it.”

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