England interim manager Hege Riise was today confirmed as Team GB’s women’s football head coach ahead of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
Riise spoke of her excitement for taking on such a big role, and together with the FA’s Director of Women’s Football, Baroness Sue Campbell –– the pair outlined Team GB’s main aims leading into this year’s Games.
Here are the five key points from today’s press conference:
Why Hege Riise?
Campbell stressed that there were a few principal reasons for hiring the Norwegian, after speaking to “everyone who expressed an interest,” highlighting her ability as a manager and her previous success at the Olympics.
“There were several things we really liked [about Hege],” Campbell exemplified. “Firstly, the quality of coach she is. It was really important to see the February camp to look how Hege worked with the players, and that was excellent.
“But also that Olympic experience. all of the research shows us that people that haven't been to an Olympics before really struggle with their first Olympics and that includes coaches.
“It is a unique and very different experience to a World Cup…and I think the fact that Hege has been there, both as a player and as a coach will really help her to prepare the team the very best she can.”
Riise had initially applied to be Phil Neville’s assistant in Tokyo, but with the former England manager now in charge at Inter Miami, Riise was asked to step up, and her “willingness to adapt” is what ultimately impressed Campbell the most.
The aim is gold
The FA has recently launched a new national strategy that aims to see the men’s and women’s sides winning a major tournament at some point in the next six years.
In this way, Campbell was keen to emphasise that while no specific targets have been put in place, the intention is still to try and win the tournament.
“Our aspiration is to go there and win,” Campbell told reporters. “But that doesn’t mean we’ll be pressuring Hege and all the staff...she is a winner, and she knows what it takes to win...so she doesn’t need pressure from me or anyone else.”
Enjoying the experience
Despite expressing a desire to win gold in Tokyo, Campbell also pointed out the importance of relishing the occasion.
“The other thing that’s really important is...making sure this is a positive and enjoyable experience, as well as staying very focused about what our goal is.”
With the potential for six games in 17 days if Great Britain does make it to the final, Riise echoed these thoughts –– outlining the need for the team to utilise their time in between matches.
“It has to be in some way relaxing, but also focused when you need it to because you need to enjoy the ride as well,” she stated.
Most of the squad will be English
England are the highest-ranked team of all the home nations, so the admission that most of Great Britain’s squad will be made up of players from the Lionesses isn’t all too surprising.
Nonetheless, Campbell conceded that while Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish players were all being watched closely, “the majority of the squad will be English.”
Riise and Campbell want “versatility”
The squad size for the Olympics is just 18 players, some five less than the World Cup, and therefore a significant cause for consideration.
Campbell stressed that Team GB are looking for flexibility and the ability to adapt to playing different positions.
“That ability to demonstrate you can play in a number of positions is going to be really important,” she said.
An extensive shortlist has been drawn up ahead of the tournament with analysts in place to evaluate players every move. The final squad is set to be decided in May, as the competition gets underway on Wednesday, 21st July.News Now - Sport News