The Houston Dash have appointed Vera Pauw as the second head coach in team history, the club announced today.

“I’m very excited. It’s just a dream come true, isn’t it? To be able to be coach and play in facilities like BBVA Compass Stadium and in such a competitive league,” Pauw said. “Soccer is an evolving sport here in the U.S. with a unique background, and I am very excited about the opportunity ahead to work with a very talented roster. We have a solid core of players that will be key in reaching our goals for 2018 and beyond.”

Pauw, 54, joins the Dash after two years with the South African Women’s National Team. Pauw led Banyana Banyana to their second consecutive Olympic Games in the 2016 edition in Rio de Janeiro. The Amsterdam native also led the South Africans to the semifinals of the 2014 Confederation of African Football Women’s Championship.

“We are thrilled to have Vera as the next Dash head coach and look forward to her making positive contributions to the club,” Dash president Chris Canetti said. “She brings a wealth of experience at the highest level, a strong record of success, and a passion for the game. She also has a strong desire to be a part of our club and believes in what we are building here in Houston.”

In addition to her work on the touchline, Pauw has served on technical advisory boards and as an instructor at numerous coaching functions hosted by FIFA and UEFA since 1994. The former Dutch international defender was the first female to earn the UEFA Pro License from the Royal Dutch Football Association in 2005, passing with the highest rates ever obtained.

Additionally, Pauw was a key component in developing policy that implemented mixed gender football for the most talented players in the country and organizing the structure of the Eredivisie Vrouwen, the Dutch women’s first division. Pauw was honored for her contributions to the game in prior to the 2017 UEFA Women’s Championship as a Knight of the Royal Dutch Football Association.

Pauw brings more than 15 years of experience as an international manager with stints throughout Europe. Prior to joining South Africa, she spent two years as the technical director and head coach of the Russian Women’s National Team in 2011.

Pauw served as the head coach of the Netherlands from 2004-2010 and led her home country to its first major tournament, the 2009 UEFA Women’s European Championship. The Netherlands entered the tournament as the lowest-ranked teams, and one of the youngest, yet finished in third place, the highest honor until earlier this year when the Oranje won the tournament.

The former Dutch international retired from playing in 1998 and was shortly named the technical director and head coach of Scotland’s Women’s National Team. The former defender earned 89 caps for the Netherlands, which was the most by a Dutch player  of either gender in that era, and represented five clubs during her playing career – including a stint with CF Modena from Italy in 1988. Pauw was the first female Dutch player to sign a professional contract abroad when she made the move to Italy.

Pauw and her technical staff will represent Houston at the 2018 NWSL College Draft. Houston will have six selections in the draft, including the third overall selection.