Portuguese Helena Costa made sports history on Wednesday by being hired as coach of the French second-division soccer team Clermont Foot. She replaced outgoing coach Regis Brouard and is the second female coach of a male soccer team.
She will take over Brouard's post next season. The 36-year-old sportswoman is not new to coaching since she had coached the women's national teams of Qatar and Iran. Costa is also scout for the Celtic team in Scotland.
The first female hired as coach of a male team was Carolina Morace, who headed in 1999 the third-tier team Viterbese from Italy, but she resigned her post after two matches only due to frequent media pressure.
Due to the almost 15-year gap, society is more accepting of women breaking glass ceilings in various professions, especially in the still-male dominated world of sports.
Those not familiar with how Costa looks should not expect a butch-looking coach with short hair or masculine mannerism like Coach Sue Sylvester of the hit TV musical Glee, played by lesbian actress Jane Lynch. Costa has long black hair and squarish face that bears some resemblance to Italian actress Sophia Loren in some angles.
Because of her pretty face and athletic shapely body, Costa was cover girl of GQ Portugal for its November 2009 edition where she is in a sexy pose wearing only black tube top and bottom (http://www.magxone.com/gq/helena-costa-gq-portugal-november-2009/).
The brief write up on Costa said she is also an actress and the girlfriend then of footballer Daniel Mustafa.
She comes prepared for the coaching job, having a Master's degree in sports science and a UEFA A Licence in Coaching and is credited with leading the Benfica youth team to second place finish in the 2005 national championship.
Comments in social media sites indicated the athletic world welcomes Costa with open arms.
One of the first to congratulate Costa in Twitter on her appointment as coach of the French football club is the Celtic Football Club.
Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, women's minister of France, upon learning of Costa's appointment, wrote, "Congratulations to Clermont for understanding that giving a place to women is the future of professional football."
She is often compared to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho and is sometimes referred to as "Mourinho in a petticoat."
Commenting on her new job, Costa told the Daily Mail, "Working in professional football is a dream for me ... It will not happen very quickly - maybe for my great-grandchildren. But I do not go to the end of the world to train to give up."
Costa is not the only female in Clermont since the French team has Severine Chapeyron as their physiotherapist.
As to the question if Costa would enter the team's dugout where the footballers are often in various stages of undress when off the field, Clermont defender Jacques Salze pointed out that Chapeyron sees them in just their underwear all day.
"This appointment does not change much," he said, but added, "After we take our shower, I do not think she (Costa) will be there."