Karen Hills & Juan Amoros: Tottenham Hotspur Women co-bosses’ journey to the WSL
When Karen Hills first took charge of Spurs Ladies in 2007, the set-up was so primitive that she was asked to drive the minibus. Her players took their own kit home to wash each week.
It was a landscape that typified traditional grassroots football in the fifth tier of the women’s game.
Hills and co-head coach Juan Amoros, who arrived in 2011, have overseen the steep rise of the club – now called Tottenham Hotspur Women – to the Women’s Super League.
On Wednesday, they travel to Birmingham City and will have the chance to move in to the top half of the top flight, having enjoyed a record-breaking campaign so far.
“I remember when the girls took all their shirts home all the time and I got asked to pick up sandwiches,” Hills told BBC Sport, after her side were watched by a WSL high of 38,262 fans at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on 17 November.
“[When I first took charge] I got asked if I could take the money out of my account to pay for the referee, and I got asked the following week if I would be able to drive the minibus.
“The journey and the way we have come forward in the past 11 years, it’s incredible.”
The 2008-09 campaign would see Spurs lose 5-0 to Enfield Town and 9-0 to Luton Town, before 2009-10 brought greatly improved results.
By Hills’ side for the past nine seasons has been Spanish coach Amoros, who added: “Nine years ago, we had a dream.
“I went to watch a game against Millwall Lionesses and I think we lost six or seven nil. I remember sending a report to Karen that was eight pages of things we needed to change.
“There have been so many players and so many people who are not here with us now, who have been an integral part of who we are as well. It’s a credit to so many people. We cannot thank them enough.”
A rare breed in the women’s game
The duo’s working partnership as co-first-team bosses is rare within the sport, but has certainly been successful. The club has moved up four tiers in the pyramid, culminating with last season’s promotion to the top flight via a second-placed finish in the Championship.
“Very, very few coaches at the top level at the moment have been able to say they’ve worked across a number of different leagues within the women’s pyramid,” Hills added.
“We’ve had this amazing opportunity. As a coach, you always want to do the work on the grass. We’ve learnt our trade on the grass here.
“To see the progression has given us a lot of confidence and belief in our own ability, and that experience goes to the players.
“It’s been a journey and one I wouldn’t change for the world.”
Hills and Amoros’ team have played in front of three of the four largest ever WSL attendances, including the division’s first north London derby.
That followed their appearances in front of crowds in excess of 24,000 at both London Stadium and Stamford Bridge earlier this term.
Spurs go into Wednesday’s game six points above hosts Birmingham, who have a further game in hand.
BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC in 2019, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.