As the Tokyo Olympic games are just around the corner, all eyes will be on Team GB’s women’s football team to see how they get on in their bid to win their first gold medal.
It is fair to say that there is a lot of pessimism surrounding Team GB’s chances after the amount of hurdles the team constantly faces with trying to form a team of four home nations. Their final group phase match against Canada will be played on Tuesday 27 July and everyone will be hoping that the team can progress past that stage.
Getting this far alone has been an outstanding achievement. It has taken a lot of talks and meetings between the home nations to agree to the existence of the team beyond London 2012, which have been far from easy. This was shown by there being no squad to represent Great Britain five years ago in Rio de Janeiro.
The pandemic has not helped either. It has not only extended the absence of a Team GB women’s football team but it has also affected the strategic planning that has had to be constantly redone a number of times. There has also been the lack of stability in leadership as the former England boss Phil Neville was supposed to lead Team GB at the Games before the Lionesses home Euros in 2021, but as both were delayed, he put a dent in all these plans as he linked up with David Beckham as the new head coach of Inter Miami. The FA were forced to make alternative arrangements and they turned to Norway’s former Olympic champion, European champion and World Cup winner Hege Riise, who was appointed as a temporary assistant coach.
The preparations were always going to be tough seeing as Team GB have not played a competitive game together for nine years. Their best hope is the 19 England internationals in their ranks. World player of the year and Manchester City right-back Lucy Bronze made a joke on the situation saying they had gone nine years unbeaten. While there is confidence in the Lionesses representing Team GB, England have only played on three occasions this year.
They are considerably behind the opposition if you look at the stronger competition. The US, who are the reigning world champions, have had 12 games under their belt in 2021. The World Cup runners-up and reigning European champions, the Netherlands, along with Sweden, have played six games each. Team GB’s group of Japan, Canada and Chile have all played five, seven and four times this year respectively.
Nonetheless, the Team GB women’s team will have the full backing of the UK in Tokyo and while there is a sense of lack of time for preparation and team cohesion, there is plenty of quality in the squad which will boost their chances of leaving the Games with a medal.