SOLIHULL Moors Ladies have announced the appointment of Annie Zaidi BEM as their new manager, becoming the first Pakistani Muslim in football management.
Zaidi, who has been a part of the set-up at Moors since August 2017, had previously been involved at under-16s level, through to the under-13s and under 9s boys’ teams in managerial and technical coaching roles.
Having been honoured in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for 2017 when she was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to football coaching, she now takes on the leading role at the club alongside Lucy Jelf and Dan Kembery to complete her coaching team.
Jelf arrives as Female Football Coordinator from Burton Albion’s Community Trust, with Kembery having a previous spell coaching at the club and joins after coaching Birmingham City Women.
The new Moors Ladies manager was clearly emotional about breaking down boundaries to make the move into a leading football management role.
“I’m quite overwhelmed and honoured to be approached and asked if I’d be able to step in,” she said.
“I had my first game on Sunday, which was great. It’s going to challenge me as a coach and also develop me.
“I’m quite honoured to be asked for such a significant, high-profile role within the club.”
Zaidi was also prospectful about the challenge ahead and believes her side – second-bottom in the league – can overturn their recent bad fortunes.
“From what I’ve seen at training and from what I’ve seen from my first game, the table position doesn’t justify the talent that we’ve got in the team – we just had a bad run and all teams go through that.
“This is a challenge, but I already know the skills that the players have. I’m pretty confident that we’ll be ok for the season.
“I think it’s about the environment that I create. You have to be in the right environment giving players a platform where they can freely express themselves.
“We’re in it together as a team now, right until the end. There no ‘I’, it’s ‘us’ together.”
Sporting Director of the club, Mark Fogarty, welcomed Zaidi to the club as a role model in football who can prove the perfect fit for the Moors.
“Annie is a very able and enthusiastic coach who inspires those around her.
“We had to act quickly when Ross (Thorpe) resigned and have been able to bring in a top-quality coach who wants to do the very best for the team.
“I now feel that the team have the best possible chance to climb away from the relegation places and develop a good future.”
Zaidi’s first match in charge comes this Sunday when they host Wolverhampton Wanderers Women (2pm).