The British Olympic Association (BOA) has announced the 18 players that will represent Team GB in the women’s football competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The announcement was made today at Wembley Stadium in London, which will host the gold medal match on the 9 August.
The line-up is a blend of youth and experience, and includes 33-year-old forward Kelly Smith, who has overcome her injury troubles to earn selection. Smith recently signed for her third spell with Arsenal Ladies, and is the all-time leading goalscorer for England with 45 goals from 111 caps.
Many of the squad have enjoyed both domestic and international success with their club sides in recent seasons. Ellen White, Rachel Yankey, Stephanie Houghton and Kim Little were all part of the Arsenal Ladies squad that won the inaugural 2011 FA Women’s Super League, while Rachel Williams, Karen Carney and Eniola Aluko all featured for Birmingham City Ladies as they won The FA Women’s Cup for the first time in May this year.
The squad will be lead by Head Coach Hope Powell, who oversaw her 150th match as England National Coach against Slovenia last Thursday. She will take control of her first match with Team GB when they meet Sweden in a warm-up fixture at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium on the 20 July, as part of a double-header which will also see the men’s selectees face Brazil.
“Narrowing my squad down to 18 was very, very tough because of the calibre of player we’ve got coming through now," said Powell. "But we were very extensive in our scouting and our research and I believe we have got an excellent squad in terms of quality, balance and strength in depth. They are all current internationals with plenty of experience.
“This is a great chance for these players to be involved in something huge and it gives us a great platform to further raise the profile of the women’s game.”
Arsenal defender Alex Scott added: “I am delighted to be named in the squad. The Olympics is a massive tournament and I can’t wait to be a part of it, especially with it taking place in my own city. It’s a real once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m determined to make the most of it.
“I’m sure it will be something I can look back on with pride in years to come.”
Women’s football made its first appearance on the Olympic programme at the 1996 Atlanta Games, and London 2012 marks the first time that a Team GB women’s football team will compete at the Olympics. Team GB will kick off their campaign when they face New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on the 25 July.
The match takes place two days before the London 2012 Opening Ceremony and also marks the beginning of competitive action across the full Olympic sporting roster. Team GB will take on Cameroon in Cardiff on 28 July, before completing their group stage fixtures against reigning silver-medallists Brazil at Wembley on the 31 July.
The 18 players selected for Team GB are:
Eniola Aluko (age: 25, club: Birmingham City Ladies)
Anita Asante (age: 27, club: Gothenburg)
Karen Bardsley (age: 27, club: Linkoping)
Sophie Bradley (age: 22, club: Lincoln Ladies)
Rachel Brown (age: 31, club: Everton Ladies)
Karen Carney (age: 24, club: Birmingham City Ladies)
Ifeoma Dieke (age: 31, club: Vittsjö GIK)
Stephanie Houghton (age: 24, club: Arsenal Ladies)
Kim Little (age: 21, club: Arsenal Ladies)
Claire Rafferty (age: 23, club: Chelsea Ladies)
Alex Scott (age: 27, club: Arsenal Ladies)
Jill Scott (age: 25, club: Everton Ladies)
Kelly Smith (age: 33, club: Arsenal Ladies)
Casey Stoney (age: 30, club: Lincoln Ladies)
Fara Williams (age: 28, club: Everton Ladies)
Rachel Williams (age: 24, club: Birmingham City Ladies)
Ellen White (age: 23, club: Arsenal Ladies)
Rachel Yankey (age: 32, club: Arsenal Ladies)
The four reserve players are:
Jess Clarke (age: 23, club: Lincoln Ladies)
Emma Higgins (age: 26, club KR Reykjavik)
Jane Ross (age: 22, club: Glasgow City)
Dunia Susi (age 24, club: Chelsea Ladies)
The addition of the women’s footballers brings the total number of athletes officially selected to compete for Team GB at London 2012 to 346 across 29 sport disciplines: archery, athletics – marathon, badminton, basketball, boxing, canoe slalom, canoe sprint, cycling, diving, equestrian – dressage, equestrian – eventing, fencing, football – women, handball, hockey, judo, modern pentathlon, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, synchronised swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, water polo, weightlifting and wrestling.
Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said: “I’m immensely proud to welcome the women’s football team into Team GB for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“Having the opportunity to field a women’s football team at the Olympics is a truly historic moment for us. The squad includes veterans that have played for some of the best club sides in the world, right through to those whose potential is still blossoming – but for all of them, the opportunity to represent Great Britain at a home Olympic Games is a new and unique experience. We all share their excitement in being part of the legacy of London 2012.
“In Hope Powell, the team has not only a vastly experienced and respected coach, but also a true ambassador for the game. The strength of the Team GB selection owes a great deal to the work she has done for women’s football and she will be an inspirational figure to have on the touchline.
“The whole country will be behind the team when they kick off against New Zealand, and hopefully they can set the tone for a successful Games by getting off to a winning start.”
The tournament kicks off on 25 July with six cities across Great Britain hosting men and women’s matches until the Finals at Wembley Stadium concluding on 11 August.
Tickets are available via www.tickets.london2012.com or 0844 847 2012.