Powell urges Team GB to shine

23 July 2012 / 17:46

Team GB coach Hope Powell wants her side to seize the chance to showcase women's football when they open the London Olympics against New Zealand on Wednesday.

Although the opening ceremony does not take place until Friday evening, the sporting action kicks off two days earlier with the first game in Group E at the Millennium Stadium.

The timing of the fixture will put women's football firmly in the spotlight, and Powell knows it is a golden opportunity to raise the public's appreciation of the sport.

"It is a great honour, I am really pleased it has happened this way," she said. "It will give us a lot of kudos, a lot of attention.

"There are no other Olympic events on that day so it's a chance to showcase the sport, hopefully it will be a good game and it will give people a greater appreciation of how good women's football actually is.

"We have a responsibility and a great opportunity to do that. It's a world stage, the Olympics is global, it is massive in its own right. With the coverage we will undoubtedly get, we are hoping we can catch people's attention and raise the profile of the sport, not just in Britain, but globally."

Powell's side played out a goalless draw against Sweden in Middlesbrough on Friday as part of a double-header with the men's side, and she and captain Casey Stoney revealed that the two squads have bonded well after spending time together in the build-up to the Games.

Stoney said: "We had quite a lot of interaction, the guys have been really good. We were at the Olympic village together, we played pool together and we had forfeits with the loser having to make tea and stuff like that."

Powell added: "We were in Middlesbrough together, we spent a few days together as one squad and it was a really nice atmosphere.

"I think it was good for the girls and guys to be part of that and it was about the ethos of being one Team GB which I think worked really, really well, and as a result I am sure the guys will want to see how the girls are doing and vice-versa."