Eighteen players including England stars Kelly Smith, Rachel Yankey and Ellen White have been selected to represent Team GB in women’s football at the London 2012 Olympics.
Scottish players Kim Little and Ifeoma Dieke have also accepted a call up, despite concerns from the Scottish Football Association that their participation would risk its football independence. No players from Wales or Northern Ireland will join them, with Head Coach Hope Powell (pictured above) instead selecting 16 English players.
Combining both youth and experience, many of the squad members have enjoyed both domestic and international success with their club sides in recent seasons. 33-year-old Smith, who has overcome her injury troubles to earn selection, recently signed for her third spell with Arsenal Ladies and is the all-time leading goalscorer for England with 45 goals from 111 caps.
White, Yankey, Stephanie Houghton and Little were all part of the Arsenal Ladies squad that won the inaugural 2011 FA Women’s Super League, while Rachel Williams, Karen Carney and Eniola Aluko all featured for Birmingham City Ladies as they won The FA Women’s Cup for the first time in May this year.
The squad will be lead by Powell, who oversaw her 150th match as England National Coach against Slovenia last Thursday. She will take control of her first match with Team GB when they meet Sweden in a warm-up fixture at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on July 20, as part of a double-header which will also see the men’s selectees face Brazil.
Speaking of squad selection, Powell said: “Narrowing my squad down to 18 was very, very tough because of the calibre of player we’ve got coming through now. But we were very extensive in our scouting and our research and I believe we have got an excellent squad in terms of quality, balance and strength in depth. They are all current internationals with plenty of experience.
“This is a great chance for these players to be involved in something huge and it gives us a great platform to further raise the profile of the women’s game.”
Full squad (club):
Eniola Aluko (Birmingham City Ladies)
Anita Asante (Gothenburg)
Karen Bardsley (Linkoping)
Sophie Bradley (Lincoln Ladies)
Rachel Brown (Everton Ladies)
Karen Carney (Birmingham City Ladies)
Ifeoma Dieke (Vittsjö GIK)
Stephanie Houghton (Arsenal Ladies)
Kim Little (Arsenal Ladies)
Claire Rafferty (Chelsea Ladies)
Alex Scott (Arsenal Ladies)
Jill Scott (Everton Ladies)
Kelly Smith (Arsenal Ladies)
Casey Stoney (Lincoln Ladies)
Fara Williams (Everton Ladies )
Rachel Williams (Birmingham City Ladies)
Ellen White (Arsenal Ladies)
Rachel Yankey (Arsenal Ladies)
Jess Clarke (Lincoln Ladies)
Emma Higgins (KR Reykjavik)
Jane Ross (Glasgow City)
Dunia Susi (Chelsea Ladies)
Women’s football made its first appearance on the Olympic programme at the 1996 Atlanta Games, and London 2012 marks the first time that a Team GB women’s football team will compete at the Olympics. Team GB will kick off their campaign when they face New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on July 25.
The match takes place two days before the London 2012 Opening Ceremony and also marks the beginning of competitive action across the full Olympic sporting roster. Team GB will take on Cameroon in Cardiff on July 28, before completing their group stage fixtures against reigning silver-medallists Brazil at Wembley on July 31.
Jessica Whittington, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine