England women’s assistant head coach Marieanne Spacey admits the future is bright for the young players now coming through at clubs around the country – particularly in the FA Women’s Super League.
Spacey – who juggles her role as Mark Sampson’s No.2 with coaching the Under-23s – says that girl’s football at grassroots level has been incredibly important in the development of youngsters currently coming through.
She said: “Our game is about participation at a young and grassroots level because we wouldn’t have a game without that. There are some real gems in this group coming through at the moment – some future England internationals – and the game is in a stage where there is a real pathway for girls to get into football.
“It’s exciting to see what we can generate in terms of future England players but also seeing what we have now. They’re training every day to improve their football on the pitch and growing as people as well as players – it’s definitely exciting for the future.”
Spacey was speaking at the recently FA WSL media launch at St George’s Park and had just returned from coaching the England U23 side at their annual tournament in La Manga.
Whilst Sampson has a solid base of experienced players from which to choose from, Spacey believes there are certain players in her group who are almost ready to make the step up.
She said: “You look at some of those players and think, ‘you’re knocking on the door’. It’s exciting for the U19s, too, they’ve got the elite rounds coming up and the U17s have been playing in America.
“The opportunities there now are superb to grow the game but also to grow it with the purpose of taking on the top four nations with the younger players and the experienced players – the whole programme is now about development and organisation.”
The WSL is now about to enter its sixth season, with all but one of England’s latest squad playing their football domestically in the top division.
And Spacey believes the creation of a professional women’s league in England has had a massive impact on the England national team.
She said: “The girls are playing day in, day out and building partnerships with players; the core of the squad are at certain clubs, so they’re already playing with team-mates and building those understandings.
“The WSL has been fantastic for us because it takes the players to a different level and the whole set-up has really progressed over the last five years.”
With several young players like Jenna Dear, Jemma Rose and Jade Bailey all present at the launch, Spacey had a positive message for the young players who harbour hopes of being part of Sampson’s plans for Euro 2017 next summer.
She added: “We’ll be out at different WSL games and watching the youth teams at international level to see how certain players are progressing throughout the season. Everyone aspires to play in the European Championships, is there a latecomer – whichever age squad they’re in – to come through and make the squad? Who knows …”