RIISE TO LEAD TEAM GB AT OLYMPICS
With so many sporting competitions being disrupted by the effects of COVID-19, the Olympic Games has certainly not been immune to the ongoing problems that the world is facing and even though there are still doubts regarding its next edition, the feeling is that the show will eventually go on.
A show that has been delayed by a year and with Tokyo preparing to host many athletic disciplines, preparations are speeding up in all corners of the globe – none more so, than within Europe and Great Britain in particular.
Preparations that come in the shape of Team GB and the question regarding who will lead their women’s football team in the summer. Of course, this role was earmarked for Phil Neville, by virtue of the former Manchester United defender’s employment as manager of the England team.
However, the best laid plans have a habit of changing and with Neville linking up with former Red Devils teammate David Beckham and becoming the manager of MLS Franchise Inter Miami, it left a void that needed to be filled in double quick time.
A void that has seen an element of continuity kept in place and where Neville would have acted as the head figure for both England and Team GB’s footballing entities, the same privilege has now been afforded elsewhere.
A privilege that has been handed to Hege Riise and with the Norwegian already acting as the interim replacement after Neville’s stateside move, it made sense to continue with the previous state of coaching duplication.
Such a decision makes even more sense when you consider England’s first performance under Riise’s tutelage and with the Lionesses thrashing Northern Ireland 6-0 in February, Team GB will hope for more of the same in Japan.
The 51-year-old will be supported by Rhian Wilkinson, who has been assisting Riise within her current interim remit and once again, the decision makers have opted for familiarity rather than unnecessary change.
On the announcement of Riise’s appointment, Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA's director of women's football, said:
"We could not have been more impressed with the impact that Hege and Rhian have had in such a short space of time with England Women, particularly during our recent international camp at St. George's Park."
While of course, Baroness Campbell and her colleagues will be hoping that Riise’s previous success as a player and coach rubs off on those that she is aiming to mentor and with an Olympic gold to her name at the turn of the new millennium, she will want to mastermind further glory.
Not only that, but the former midfielder was also a part of the USA’s gold medal winning efforts of 2012 and although it was not through actions on playing field, her tactical nous was highly welcomed as assistant coach.
Now with a more senior job title, she will look for a repeat of the success of nine years ago and the first step towards emulating such glory, will be the tournament draw that is set to take place on April 21st.