Toni Ready For Welsh Test

On Saturday, England play Wales in a World Cup qualifying match that a lot of people have been looking forward to.

To be honest though, for me, it’s just another game – I don’t really focus on the opposition. I just concentrate on what we can do. If we can get that right then I truly believe we can beat anyone on our day.

Wales do have some stand out players. Jess Fishlock was named Player’s Player of the Year a couple of seasons in the WSL and has just been named her club’s MVP out in America. So we will pinpoint them but I don’t think it makes it harder or easier that we know them from playing against them for our clubs. If anything it adds that spice.

As you’ll be aware, Brent Hills is continuing as manager for the time being. Under him we have had two good results already so for us its business as usual. I have worked with Brent for a while but you still never quite know what he is thinking so I went into the England camp full of confidence and wanting to prove a point. I am glad he gave me the opportunity to do that.

The structure has been similar to what we have had in recent years but to be honest that’s England. It never really changes off the pitch. I think Brent has tried to implement certain things that he wanted to get out of the games, and I think that worked and it showed in the results. However I wouldn’t say there were any massive differences in terms of how we set about preparing for games.

I think we played really well against Belarus and Turkey. In the Belarus game I really wanted to get on the score-sheet but it wasn’t to be. I was a bit disappointed – that’s the striker in me! – but I set up a couple so I was happy with that. I managed to make up for that in the Turkey game with a hat-trick.

Celebrating with Eni Aluko

Celebrating with Eni Aluko

Even when it got to 6-0 against Turkey we still continued to press forward and perform well. In games like that it is easy for your standards to drop and people can be selfish and want to get on the score-sheet but I don’t think that happened.

The goals were spread out around the team and even the substitutes that came on were professional. It can be quite tough coming on at 6-0 but I think everyone who played kept the standard high and that made it a good performance.

Admittedly, the past two games haven’t been against what you would call world beaters but the way we played has given us a lot of confidence. They were probably the type of games that we needed after the Euros to help us get our belief back.

That being said, we won’t be underestimating Wales – we know what they can offer. It will be a tough game but hopefully we can keep our standards and get a positive result.

Laura Harvey – NWSL: Post season and preparing for next season

Hi, I’m Seattle Reign Head Coach Laura Harvey and welcome to my blog!

So after the inaugural NWSL season has finished my attentions quickly turned to planning for next season. It is quite foreign to me to have so much time in the off season to prepare, back in England we might get a month off before our next pre season starts. In the states we finished in August and don’t have pre season until March of the following year. This is a good thing for our league I think as especially last year we had to move very quickly on aspects of the club once I had been appointed and many things were done as a reaction and we as a club know we need to be more prepared for next season. We have without doubt one of the most hard working and hands on Owners in the league so although I’ve spent a few weeks back in England we are in constant contact looking at ways to make our club better.

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We even managed to go and see PSG v Lyon at the end of September, this was a great opportunity to see what level we are trying to push our league towards. Lyon are undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best team in Europe and their structure on and off the field is something I think every club can learn from. So to see the game and appreciate the fan base and how the club works is great for us and gives some ideas of things we can do to make Reign FC a sustainable and competitive club. It was also nice to see Megan Rapinoe in action again, she has had a few weeks off so she only came on in the second half but she put her own stamp on the game straight away, which was great to see.

A big part of my off season task is to prepare ourselves for the NWSL college draft, for those of you that don’t know the American system I will try my best to explain! The draft is made up of players who are in their final year at college in America, the players have to draft themselves and then they sit back and watch which team drafts them. There are only 32 places though and normally there is over 100 players in the draft so competition is tough. Each NWSL club will get four picks in the college draft, throughout 2013 teams used those picks as part of trades for other players so some teams may have given up a pick or moved in the order. So for example, we have traded our first round pick in the draft for the deal we made with Chicago for Keelin Winters, which means we still get four picks but one of those picks will be further down the order than it would have been.  A few players who came out of the college draft last year and did well were Erica Tymrak, Adrianna Franch, Kat Williamson and our own Christine Nairn. So you can see if you get your picks right it can differently be a positive thing for your club. The draft happens in early 2014 so we will see what clubs go for in the draft.

As I said earlier I have spent the last few weeks back in England and its been interesting seeing how the FA WSL has ended with Liverpool winning the league for the first time. I know the players and staff at Arsenal will not be happy about letting their trophy go and Im sure this will give them added incentive for next season. Its been interesting to see how everyone has responded about Liverpool winning the league with limited amount of English players. My own opinion is that Arsenal have won the league for the last 10 plus years because they had the best players in Great Britain and Ireland so for a team to compete with them, I think that they had to get the better players from around England and mix that with foreign players. I’m sure if we were to ask the players competing in the FA WSL they would say that foreign players help raise the standard which is what everyone wants.

The NWSL is such an exciting league as although we have limited amount of Internationals we can bring in. The standard and talent pool on offer in the States is so huge that everywhere you look you see talented players. If you look at the player pool on offer to the US national team I think the A and B teams would compete with most teams across the world. I’m excited for next season to see what new talent emerges through and which teams come out fighting to win the championship.

As for Seattle Reign FC we will be working tirelessly to improve our club on and off the field throughout the off season, so we can push on from some of our good performances of last season.  2014 is going to be an exciting year!

#letitreign

Thanks

Laura

Jess Fishlock – It’s crunch time

Gearing up for the big game: Photo Glasgowcityladies.co.uk

Gearing up for the big game: Photo Glasgowcityladies.co.uk

So today we have a massive game against Standard Liege, and it was the Champions League that really attracted me to Glasgow City, so I cannot wait for kick-off. I won’t lie, adjusting to life in Scotland has been tough, not because its not a nice place or club, but because I came back from Seattle so tired. From a personal perspective, the season out in America was a successful one and I cant wait to go back at the start of next year, but I came back both physically and mentally exhausted because the game out there is so intense. It is hard when you go from a team that you have been with for eight months and you know each other so well, which was the case in Seattle, to coming into a team who have been together for a long time and have everything in place, like Glasgow do – so it was tough at the start. But I am in a better frame of mind now, especially when I play at international level, but physically I feel good and I feel I have a bit of an edge because of my time out in America, so I hope that explosive side I have added to my game will benefit both Glasgow and Wales.

 Photo by Winnie Ho.

Photo by Winnie Ho.

We have good players at Glasgow, which is good for me, because it makes it enjoyable when you play with players at a certain level – it makes training competitive and you can then take that into matches. I’m really excited about the games against Liege, especially as I haven’t been involved for a few years in the Champions League, which in my opinion is one of the best competitions in the world. We’ve got a good draw, but that doesn’t mean I’m saying it’s going to be easy. It’s not a Lyon or a Wolfsburg, so we have to go into the games thinking we can win them. I get posed the question about the potential of playing Arsenal in the last 16, but while it sounds very cliché, we’re only focused on the tie with Liege. It will be a great game if it occurs and I have no doubt there will be a media frenzy if it happens, but we don’t want to think ahead too far and Arsenal is not our focus. I’m really pleased with the situation that I’m in at the moment for both club and country, especially with the Champions League games with Glasgow and of course, the game against England at the end of the month with Wales. There’s been a lot of talk about it up to now and we’ve tried not to think about it because we had to play Belarus first and focus on winning that game, which I’m delighted we were able to do. photo England are the top seeds, very experienced and we are not on the same level as them – we could well be under pressure, but that’s ok. We’re going to prepare like we normally do, and the great thing is we know the England girls as many of our girls play against them week in, week out. To lead us out in a game where we could cause an upset, I am really excited for that, but it’s important we treat it like any other game. But for the moment, my focus is on Glasgow and our Champions League games, so fingers crossed we are celebrating once the second leg is complete.

Ada Hegerberg – My education on and off the field

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The guys at The Women’s Football Podcast asked me if I would like to write a blog about myself, the life as a professional footballer, and how I deal with balancing playing football and finishing my last year in school! So here I am, writing for them.

First a short introduction about myself. My full name is Ada Stolsmo Hegerberg and I come from a small town called Sunndal.

At 13-years-old I moved to Oslo with my family, partly to develop as a football player, but also because in Oslo I had the opportunity to play at a higher level, playing for Kolbotn and Stabæk, until I signed for Turbine Potsdam in January 2013.

It is now eight weeks since we (Norway) were in the final of the summer’s biggest adventure, the Euros in Sweden.

A young Ada alongside sister Adrine, who currently plays with Kopparbergs Gothenburg

A young Ada alongside sister Adrine, who currently plays with Kopparbergs Gothenburg

Unfortunately, I suffered an ankle injury in the quarterfinal against Spain and played the two last matches, the semi-final and the final, with the injury, which still troubles me.

An MR back in Potsdam showed that two ligaments had fractures. Now, two months later, I’m slowly getting back to business and played my first game again against Essen in the DFB-Pokal.

I am physically fit, but I can’t use my right foot 100%. On the other hand, my left foot precision has increased during my injury period.  I just have to deal with it and it takes the time it takes to heal.

This gives me an opportunity to do some long term planning for my individual development. In other words, what are my specific aims in developing specific skills – speed, finishing and motoric skills.

At the moment I have plenty to do; training, medical treatment and school work.
I have plans to graduate at the normal time, which means this last year in school is important.

Training hard with the Norwegian National Team

Training hard with the Norwegian National Team

To ensure I have the best chance of passing, I travel back to Oslo now and then to have contact with my teachers, where I can discuss subjects face to face. From Potsdam, I’m doing these studies through the Internet.

I am not looking upon schoolwork as a burden, because it gives me a reason to live and think as a normal teenage girl. What interests me and concerns me in addition to football is how society is working. To play football abroad and travel around the world is an excellent combination with education.

My short term aim this year is to produce goals for my club and be a precise passer of the ball so that Turbine Potsdam can be a superb team of possession football. Concerning scoring goals, I put a lot of emphasise on both using my left and right foot and also improve my skills in the air, so I can put the ball into the goal from any narrow angle and long distances.

What is also very important for me is to evaluate that I take small steps every week and every month. In a ten-year scope, I hope that will produce something.

Outside my control I hope that women’s football will make great progress in every country and that the players train with high intensity, quality and accuracy.

Thank you

Ada

Captain’s Blog: A Crazy week

A special moment: Photo provided by Gemma Bonner

A special moment: Photo provided by Gemma Bonner

To say it has been a crazy few days, would be an understatement. To win my first league title, make my England début and then win an award at our End of Season do, I could never have imagined this a week ago.

As I write this I’m feeling quite sleep deprived after celebrating on Sunday and then having a pretty intense media schedule on Monday, but it was all worth it.

This time last week, I found out in a team meeting that I was making my England début against Turkey. I can’t put into words how it makes you feel when you know you’re going to play for your country, it’s a great honour.

I spoke to the likes of Fara and Casey when I found out I’d be playing and they were great. They both have so much experience and for a young player like me, that is invaluable in calming your nerves.

I prepared like I would for a game with Liverpool, but about an hour before kick off, all I could think was “oh my god, I’m about to make my England début!”

One to cherish: Photo provided by Gemma Bonner

One to cherish: Photo provided by Gemma Bonner

The game itself was an ideal one for me to make my debut. It was a good win and it was a game where, despite Turkey not being the strongest, you had to concentrate for 90 minutes because we had most of the ball. It was a great feeling to play for England though. I’ve played a few times in behind closed doors matches, but the atmosphere was great at Portsmouth, so it was very different and great to see so many fans.

I had the Friday to reminisce about my début, but it was straight back to business on Saturday with our last training session before the title decider with Bristol. We knew we were favourites, but we were never going to underestimate them. They’ve been brilliant this season and we knew we were in for a match.

A lot has been made of the money the club has spent and the foreign players, but we’ve ignored that all season and I can honestly say the team spirit and the character within the squad played a massive part in our success. We played a great game on Sunday and when I had the chance to lift the league trophy, it’s without doubt one of the highlights of my career.

We’ve had pressure on us all season, but we’ve stayed right as a unit and I think we fully deserved to win the league. I won’t go into detail about the celebrations Sunday night, but what I will say is every player and every member of staff was out after the game – which really shows how close we all are and how much it meant to come out on top.

I think I crawled in about 3am, which probably wasn’t the smartest move by me, as I had to be up at 5am to go on the sofa for BBC Breakfast. I was meant to have two other teammates with me, but for various reasons (I think you can guess why) they pulled out, but managed to persuade Sarah Quantrill to come to my rescue as I was staying at her house.

It was quite daunting being on BBC Breakfast, but it was all worth it after getting a ‘well done’ from John Legend, who was on immediately after me. That morning I did BBC 5Live, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 4 and ITV, plus some local media – I was exhausted by the end of it.

I got about an hour’s sleep before heading to our End of Season Awards that night. I’m not going to lie, I struggled through it because I was so tired. I was lucky enough to pick up Manager’s Player of the Year, which honestly could have been won by so many of the team. I’m incredibly appreciative to have won the award and it caps a great season for me personally.

While at Anfield for the do, I was also honoured to sign the ‘International Wall’ following my appearance for England – there are some great names posted on there.

Some big names on this wall: Photo provided by Gemma Bonner

Some big names on this wall: Photo provided by Gemma Bonner

The foreign girls have now flown home and I’ll be concentrating on keeping fit and turning my attention to the World Cup qualifiers at the end of the month (if selected). As for Liverpool, we know the pressure will be greater next season, but with the Champions League to look forward to, I cannot wait