WITH 241 England caps between them, Everton Ladies stalwarts Rachel Brown, Jill Scott and Fara Williams are set to form the backbone of the Great Britain women’s side at this summer’s Olympics.
The trio helped the Blues to a third-placed finish in the inaugural season of the FA Women’s Super League in 2011, and have joined up with the Team GB squad as the women’s game takes a mid-season break for the Olympics.
Goalkeeper Brown, who has been part of the England women’s set up for 15 years, has spoken of her joy at being selected for the Games.
“I’m unbelievably proud to represent Great Britain in the biggest tournament in the world,” said the Everton stopper, who began her club career at rivals Liverpool.
“There has been hype about the Olympics since it was announced that London would host the Games,” she added.
“When we found out that we were going to have a women’s team, that was huge in itself.”
The Blues’ Player of the Year recently left her day job as a PE teacher to concentrate fully on her club and international career, and faces competition from Karen Bardsley for a place in goal at the Games.
But whether or not she is Hope Powell’s first choice, Brown is proud simply to have been selected.
“It has not even been a possibility at previous Olympics, so to have been picked is one of the highest points of my career as an international player.”
Brown’s Everton colleagues Scott and Williams should replicate their impressive club partnership in the centre of midfield.
Sunderland-born Scott, nicknamed “Crouchy” after former Liverpool striker Peter Crouch due to her 5’11” height, is a tenacious and energetic box-to-box player with 58 England caps.
The 25 year-old also chips in with her share of goals, and bagged a brace in England’s 4-0 Euro 2013 qualifying win over Slovenia last month.
Williams meanwhile is one of the most experienced and gifted players in the Team GB Women’s squad.
Noted for her technical prowess and dead-ball ability, Williams’ 36 goals in 105 England caps mark her out as one of the finest midfielders in the women’s game.
The 28 year-old joined Everton in 2004 after spells at Chelsea and Charlton, and skippered England as they reached the final of the 2009 European Championships.
She turned down a lucrative move to the US side Philadelphia Independence the following year to remain at Everton, and her loyalty was rewarded with a 2010 Women’s FA Cup winners’ medal.
“These are exciting times for us,” said Williams, who is also employed by the FA as a skills coach.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase ourselves. It’s a massive experience and one we will never forget.”
But the play maker has warned that the Team GB squad must focus on negotiating a potentially tricky group, featuring Brazil, Cameroon and New Zealand, before they begin dreaming of medal glory.
“Our focus has to be the group stage,” she said ahead of England’s group E opener against New Zealand next week.
“We need to win that opening game. Having played against them for England, I know that New Zealand will be tough opposition.
Williams admits that there will be a few nerves among the players as they walk out at the Millennium Stadium on Wednesday to face the Kiwis, and added that final group opponents Brazil will present a stern test.
“The first game always brings nerves and expectation, so hopefully we can get a good result.
“Obviously everybody knows about Brazil, so that will be a very tough game for us.
“Once we get out of the group, we can start thinking about medals.”
But club-mate Brown insists that the Team GB women are more than capable of delivering a medal, and will be going for gold.
“Ultimately, we want to win the thing,” the 32 year-old said. “I’m hoping that we can do something extraordinary on home soil.”