Kelly Smith, Great Britain’s all-time record goalscorer, says London 2012 should help finally shake off the country’s macho male image and put women’s football firmly on the map.
Smith, who is fighting to be fit for group stage fixtures against Brazil, Cameroon and New Zealand, says the Games represent the best-ever chance to raise the profile of her sport telling insidethegames,
“This is our opportunity to showcase women’s football at the highest level.
“All the top teams are coming to London except for Germany. It’s the best women’s football you could possible watch – right in our own backyard.
“It’s our time.”
The women’s tournament has been refreshingly free of the eligibility row that continues to mar the men’s event and Smith, 33, says that can only work in her sport’s favour.
“I don’t know why the men have it that way. For us, you can’t get any higher than this, together with the World Cup.
“This is the ultimate. Everybody wants to be a part of an Olympic event. To play against Brazil at Wembley – everyone will have their eyes on that.
“If we could win that, it would send out a strong message to the whole world about how far we have come.”
Having had two separate spells in the United States, where the women’s game is far more established than at home, Smith hopes to draw on that experience at London 2012.
“Obviously you are playing against the best players out in America. You get used to playing against that high level week in, week out.”
The Arsenal Ladies striker, who suffered a stress fracture while on international duty during England’s 3-0 defeat by France in March this year, says she is confident of recovering in time to lead the line for her country.
“If things go according to plan, I should be back playing football at the end of May/beginning of June. I’m pretty optimistic.”
Lizzie Flint, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine