COLUMN: England boss Mark Sampson

Women’s football is enjoying a moment where there is real excitement about the game…

There’s more interest than there has ever been before. From our point of view, we’re going to a World Cup and we’ll enjoy what we can of it, but we have to focus on our own game and on being competitive. To do that in such a big tournament, we will really have to be at our best.
The sense of expectation and excitement is huge. We’ve worked so hard as a team to get to where we are now, to qualify and to develop the team – and we feel like we’re in a really good place. Right now, there’s a huge sense of overriding excitement and that’s a great way to go into any tournament.
We have to do what we always have to do: treat the football matches as football matches, nothing more. We need to keep to our simple routines, routines that have served us so well so far. We need to work hard and work for each other; and when we get on the pitch, show commitment to executing our game plan. Myself and the staff are working around the clock to ensure we’re in the best state possible for Canada.

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There are definitely challenges along the way. Accessing the material and the data for the teams we’ll play, for example, has not been not easy. We know a lot about France, and I was fortunate enough to watch Mexico play in the Cyprus Cup when we were out there too. We’re lucky that we’ve got some really great people working on our scouting team and our opposition analysts do a superb job. We sent someone out to South America to gain information and data on Colombia, but at the end of the day whoever we play, we have to be at our best on the day.
Fortunately, we’ve got a good group of players who are all in good form, who have the right attitude and the right characteristics to succeed. We had a number of tough selection decisions to make because we’ve had so many in-form players over the last 12 months. A lot of them were in contention but we had to pick a squad that will serve us well in Canada.
We’ve got an incredibly strong winning mentality, which runs through all of the players, but we’ve also got some amazing individual talent going forward. We want to be a very difficult team for our opponents to play against and we want every team that comes up against us to know they’re in for a tough game.
I want the players to go out and enjoy it, but it’s also about playing well and taking something from the experience. We want to play as a team, work hard and stick to the plans that we have drilled into everyone over the past few months.
We have to make sure we do that this year in Canada. Once the players cross the white line onto the pitch, we want to prove that we can be a challenge. And when they come back off, we must make sure we have no regrets.


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