Bertelli relishing Earls Court chance

23 May 2012 / 08:02

Great Britain volleyball team captain Maria Bertelli believes competing at this summer's Olympic Games will give her more goosebumps than playing in an FA Cup final.

The former Charlton Athletic defender played in front of more than 24,000 fans at Nottingham Forest's City Ground in the 4-1 cup final defeat by Arsenal Ladies in 2007 before making the switch to volleyball.

Now, the 34-year-old is a key part of Audrey Cooper's self-funded GB squad who have based themselves in Sheffield as they continue their preparations for the Olympic Games.

The team is staying at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue's training base on the outskirts of the city, giving them daily access to the training facilities at the English Institute of Sport.

As London 2012 approaches, Bertelli admits that she cannot wait to step out at Earls Court, with the excitement of the Olympic test event fresh in her mind and her football career now just a happy memory.

"When we were at the test event last year and stepping out on the court, I think there was 500 people watching but it was just being there, being on the court," Bertelli told Press Association Sport. "It's giving me goosebumps now just thinking about it.

"I played (football) for Charlton in the top league. I played in an FA Cup final in front of 20,000 people and it was amazing.

"I thought I had pretty much done with volleyball. I'd played professionally already and I was playing football. Then we won the bid to host the Olympics and everything changed. I gave up my job, gave up my football and decided to become a full-time volleyball player.

"I wouldn't change it, I'm happy I've done it (football) but at the same time I'm really happy I'm not doing it now and I'm happy I'm doing this. We are literally focused on being the best we can possibly be for ourselves and the sport of volleyball."

The British women's squad looks to be benefiting from the extra time spent together in Sheffield after they came from behind to beat Peru 3-2 earlier this month - no mean feat against a side 52 places above them in the world rankings.