Powell out to build on Olympic exposure

30 July 2012 / 16:21

Great Britain women's football coach Hope Powell believes Tuesday night's encounter with Brazil at Wembley offers an unprecedented opportunity for the women's game.

During her 14 years in charge of England, Powell has been evangelical about her desire for greater coverage of her chosen sport. Statistics roll off her tongue easily she has said them so often: 1.3 million girls playing, third largest team sport in the UK, third largest sport in the world.

Powell has guided the Three Lions to five major tournaments, including the 2009 European Championship final. Her own contribution to the women's game has earned her an OBE, CBE and a place in football's Hall of Fame.

But Powell accepts none of this will prick the national psyche quite like Tuesday night. The national stadium, close to 70,000 supporters - a record for a women's game in the UK - and Brazil, wearing those instantly recognisable yellow shirts. Little wonder Powell wants this Olympic experience to be repeated in four years' time.

"The Olympics draws attention like nothing else," she said. "If I wasn't involved this end, I'd be watching every single event possible - including stuff I wouldn't ordinarily watch.

"The fact a GB team is in it and everybody is getting the opportunity to view women's football is a fantastic and very significant platform. It's unique. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you can't enjoy it as a player or a member of staff you shouldn't be involved in sport. It is just mind-blowing."

The brutal truth is that while the United States and Japan may be favourites for gold, Brazil bring to Wembley with them a wow factor that, in football terms, simply cannot be matched by any other team. Their name, and those shirts, are box office.

Unless they reach the final, GB will not be involved in a bigger game, probably in their entire careers.

"I am pleased people will look at it," said Powell.

"It shows women's football in the spotlight. If 70,000 people come out and support, that's great, fantastic. It would be better if it were 90,000."