Women's World Cup - Powell: No extra pressure on England

Fri, 17 Jun 13:16:00 2011

England manager Hope Powell says her team do not feel extra responsibility to succeed at the upcoming World Cup finals in order to help foster the growth of the women's game.

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Powell's side begin their campaign with a Group B fixture against Mexico on June 27 and the finals in Germany have been identified as a big opportunity to promote the game in England, particularly given the recent launch of the new Women's Super League.

Participation in women's football rose markedly after England hosted the European Championships of 2005 and while Powell admits World Cup success could have the same effect, the manager insists her players will not be preoccupied with increasing the exposure of the game.

"The game won’t die if we don’t do well," Powell told Eurosport as her squad was unveiled at London's Somerset House. "I think what happens is that when you do do well it raises the profile, more people come out and support events like this.

"We will do our level best to give the game an opportunity to grow. But if we don’t do well the game won’t suddenly disappear. We just work hard to make sure that next time we put ourselves in a good position to go to a major tournament and we will continue to do that.

"But if we do well, of course it heightens awareness, raises the profile, it means that more girls want to get involved because they see role models on the TV, and so it goes on.

"For us though, our priority is trying to win football matches and you really forget what is going on and you are almost cocooned, which is no bad thing, because you have a very clear focus."

England's preparations for the finals have been superb, with victories over Sweden and USA, ranked fifth and first in the world respectively, giving Powell and her players cause for real optimism prior to the start of their campaign in Germany.

"It gives us the confidence and the belief that we can compete against the world’s best," Powell said. "We can’t go in with false confidence though, as it has to count when points are at stake. It’s great, and gives us confidence, but we have to ensure that we have those performances when it is the tournament and points are at stake.

"The experience of playing in these successive games [against Sweden and USA], and certainly in the friendly games with the opposition we have played against, we believe that actually we aren’t that bad and we can beat these teams.

"Sometimes it is time, and a lot of these players have been in the squad for a long time so they have good knowledge and good experience of playing in big games, and more importantly they now appreciate and understand how to win matches."


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