Holmes advice gives Powell hope

19 July 2012 / 18:13

Great Britain's women are preparing for their Olympic football campaign with the words of double gold medalist Dame Kelly Holmes ringing in their ears.

Holmes visited Hope Powell's squad at the Olympic village last weekend and issued a simple message to them: "Be an Olympian first and a footballer second".

"I think this whole thing has been something very, very special and something that will last in the memory for a very long time," said the 45-year-old Powell. "It's the kitting out experience, the going to the village and seeing the other athletes. It's not just football, it's Team GB. I like it and we're not isolated, we're not in a hotel on our own. It's all-embracing."

Despite a lot of the players selected by Powell being seasoned internationals, they have never represented Great Britain, nor have they rubbed shoulders with Olympic greats or been under such an intense spotlight.

Such occurrences are all part of the Olympic experience, though, and, ahead of their preparation-ending friendly against Sweden in Middlesbrough tomorrow, Powell is encouraging her players to heed Holmes' advice.

Powell, who has also coached England for the last 14 years, went on: "As Kelly Holmes said, 'you're an Olympian first and a footballer second'. We went into the village to experience what is was like to be Team GB and Kelly Holmes came to speak to us and put her take on it and what it actually means to be an Olympian.

"It really hit home with the girls, about embracing this one-team ethos. If you've never experienced an Olympic village, it's fantastic. As one team you sit, eat and chat together from all different sports, and it is about Team GB doing well.

"We want to do well as footballers, but also part of that whole team concept which is great and we will try and start that tomorrow."

Owing to her well-regarded work with England, Powell has been arguably the most influential figure in giving women's football the unprecedented attention it currently receives in Great Britain.

The former midfielder is not content to rest on her laurels, though, and sees no reason why a pursuit of a medal cannot be coupled with further PR work for the women's game. "I think they're equally important. As a team we want to do well but we also recognise the role we're playing," she said.