Hope and Glory: Behind the scenes with the England women’s football squad
BBC Football reporter and commentator
Next week sees the start of the UEFA Women's Euro 2013 tournament in Sweden and the BBC will be there every step of the way. This includes live commentary on 5 live Sport of England's first match on Friday at 19.30.
Everyone involved with the BBC’s coverage of the Women’s Euros is hugely looking forward to it. Never before have we covered an England tournament in its entirety – and on so many platforms.
An hour-long BBC 5 live documentary is a first for me too. Hope and Glory is broadcast on Tuesday 9th July, the day after the 20th anniversary of the FA’s jurisdiction of the women’s game. When you consider that the FA is celebrating its 150-year anniversary in the same year you can see how the women’s game has some catching up to do.
The documentary was a great opportunity to get behind the scenes and spend time talking to key people in the women’s game, including several England players.
They are a joy to interview – no grunting of platitudes. They answer the questions and you can always bank on a smile. I got the impression that they welcomed all the publicity they were getting and were keen to do their bit to promote the game.
After hosting the England squad announcement at the British Museum, I spoke to a number of people back-stage. Manager Hope Powell was in relaxed mood and openly discussed a number of subjects, although she was less keen to give her reasons for omitting a couple of in-form players from the squad, as you’ll hear in the documentary! I also asked her about her management style and appetite for the job after an extraordinary 15 years leading the England side.
I spoke to senior figures within the FA about the future of the women’s game – Alex Horne, Kelly Simmons and Sally Horrox talked about the Women’s Super League (FAWSL) and Game Changer strategy.
As well as getting their views on the Euros, I asked a cross-section of the players about FAWSL leaders Liverpool’s new-found professionalism and whether there was a little envy from those who still have to combine other jobs with their football - you can guess the answer!
One exception is defender Sophie Bradley who’s still keen to combine working in her parents’ care home with her football career. She just loves looking after the old folk and no amount of money would change that.
After the British Museum squad announcement and the relief of being newly named in the Euros squad, the players headed off to their training base, St George’s Park, where I caught up with some of them again.
I joined captain Casey Stoney in the gym as she continued her recovery from injury – she told me all about the financial reality of being a female player and gave an example which will surprise many people.
We were also behind the scenes at the Pirelli Stadium in Burton where England played world champions Japan in a friendly, the last match on home soil before jetting off to Sweden.
After the match I got the final thoughts of the players and Hope and wished them all the best, making it clear we would very much like to see them in Sweden when we head out there for the semi-finals!