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The 'top notch' Brazilian performance coach driving Gleeson's Ireland on

IT FELT LIKE the first day back at school.
There was giddiness in the air last September as the Eileen Gleeson interim era got underway at Abbotstown, and a new face stood amidst the Irish players warming up.
Performance coach Ivi Casagrande was putting them through their paces, but there was plenty of room for laughter and joking too.
Work and play. Business and pleasure.
A few weeks beforehand, Casagrande was at the Women’s World Cup as performance coach with her native Brazil when an Irish international got in touch, on a completely unrelated note.
Little did Casagrande know what lay ahead.
Rianna Jarrett was in Australia as a fan with her girlfriend, Maria. They were following the Irish team across the country and found themselves in Brisbane the day Brazil were due to face France. Jarrett previously worked with Casagrande at Brighton & Hove Albion, so she fired her former mentor a text on the off-chance she had a couple of tickets.
Casagrande came through with the goods and they found themselves among the lively Brazil fans. “Unbelievable,” Jarrett tells The 42.

“Ivi’s class. In terms of what she does, but just as a person as well. She’s so bubbly, she has so much attention to detail.
“I’m just so happy for the girls really that she’s involved with the Irish team because I think they’ll get great use out of her. She’s been received very well and I think the girls are very impressed with her since she’s come in, which is fantastic.”

Casagrande at Ireland training this week. Ben Brady / INPHO

Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

Casagrande has been making a name for herself in women’s football in recent years.
The 33-year-old played professionally in Brazil, as a midfielder with Atlético Mineiro, before lining out at US collegiate level while on scholarship at Bowling Green State University.
She continued to play semi-professional after graduating, but began her coaching career as a performance coach for the women’s soccer programme at Bowling Green State. Having called time on her own playing career in 2017, she worked for the US Soccer Network as a sports scientist, and later, became Director of Sports Performance at Redline Athletics.
Casagrande’s reputation grew Stateside and she was soon appointed head strength and conditioning coach of NWSL outfit Orlando Pride.
In 2020, she pitched up at Brighton. Her title was women’s and girls sports scientist and there she worked with Jarrett, Megan Connolly and Megan Walsh. “The best,” Connolly has written under some of her Instagram posts since she joined the Irish fold, while Denise O’Sullivan and Lily Agg are among others to have offered similar compliments.
On top of her Irish duties, Casagrande is currently lead sport scientist consultant with Lewes FC Women. She also owns her own business and is a technical expert consultant with Fifa and Uefa, the focus on developing women’s football globally.
She has certainly made her impact felt in Gleeson’s set-up thus far.

“It’s been really good working under her,” Tyler Toland says.
“She does everything from fitness to wellbeing to stats. She has a wealth of knowledge, she has been around the block. She brings loads of strength and experience to the squad, and has really pushed us forward with her expertise.
“She has been a big help. Massive.”
Casagrande’s remit appears a wide one. As well as fitness, wellbeing and stats, there’s warm-ups, cool-downs, programmes, loading, strength and conditioning; the latter particularly welcomed by the players after the documented lack of it through the Vera Pauw era.
A snapshot from her website explains further: “Ivi’s work is mainly focused on the holistic development of the coach and the athlete, apart from purely the physical performance aspect. Her goal is to educate and empower athletes and coaches around the world through their journey to become the best version of themselves everyday.”

Casagrande with Ireland WNT head coach Eileen Gleeson. Paolo Giuliani / INPHO

Paolo Giuliani / INPHO / INPHO

Courtney Brosnan echoes those words with a ringing endorsement.
“Ivi has been brilliant. Her resumé speaks for itself, the clubs and national teams she’s been at, her knowledge and experience… top notch.
“Those are the people you want to have around and obviously those are the little things that can make the big difference in terms of national teams and getting results. It’s great to have someone who is so detail-oriented and wants us all to be at our best to put performances in on pitch.”
It’s a collaborative effort, the players insist.

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Former Cork City boss Colin Healy and Welshman Rhys Carr are Gleeson’s assistant coaches, alongside Emma Byrne, who is now specifying in goalkeeping. Nutritionist Dr Brendan Egan and psychologist Sarah Murray are among the others involved.
“Everyone pulls together, we have a really good group of both coaching staff and players and we are all ultimately working towards the same goal, so we will do everything we can,” Toland assures.
“They all get on really well,” Brosnan adds. “We get on with them. It’s great to have different people in different areas who have their focus on getting the best out of all of us.
“We’re surrounded on all sides, which is good.”
As the school year nears its end, exam season looms for Ireland.
The serious business comes in the form of the Euro 2025 qualifying campaign. The Girls In Green face two of the world’s top three in the next few days: France away on Friday, and European champions England at the Aviva Stadium next Tuesday.
Ivi Casagrande’s input is about to become more important than ever.

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