The Olympics was brilliant for our sport, says England and Arsenal Ladies player Ellen White
The golden summer of London 2012, when the England women's team played to record crowds at Wembley, feels like a dream, says female footballer Ellen White.
'I don’t think any of us when we where younger thought we’d be part of the Olympics,' she says. 'It was such an achievement, and the support we got was unbelievable... alongside the press coverage we got.
'It was such an amazing experience and I don’t think any of us are going to forget it any time soon.'
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Things have continued looking up for women's football, traditionally an over-looked sport, since the Olympics. The England team won the Cyprus Cup, one of the top events in international women's football, recently for the first time since 2009. There's been front and back page coverage in the nationals as well as on TV, and increasing numbers of wannabe players are showing an interest in the game.
'The BBC have taken over showing our games for the Euros and the coverage of our Women's Super League highlights, and with ESPN showing some of our games as well it's getting shown so much more throughout all media outlets,' Ellen says.
'Also coming up to our Champions League game - the support we got for that was amazing. It just shows that after the Olympics, we can really step that forward and keep plugging away to get it shown mainstream. It's done wonders for us really.'
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The 22-year-old, FA women’s player of the year for 2011, has also agreed to act as an ambassador for the Danone Nations Cup, a global grassroots football competition to inspire children to get active and believe in their dreams.
She explains, 'Over 4,000 school teams are taking part across England which is an amazing amount of children, both boys and girls. I think that’s fantastic.
'Those that do take part in the finals will be playing countries from around the world, which will be such an amazing experience for them.'
Ellen has noticed a huge rise in interest in the sport since the Olympics. 'There are so many more girls that are so excited to play football,' she says. 'We do a lot of work in schools and the development side here at Arsenal. How enthusiastic they are to play football is amazing: we want to keep that going and keep getting as many kids to play football as possible, not just girls but boys as well really.'
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Former Arsenal player and England captain Faye White announced her retirement last week.
She'll be missed, Ellen says. 'She’s just such a lovely person, she’s always been really great with me, going into the England seniors, going into my first camp - she was the first person to speak to me and kind of take me under her wing, and she’s like a big sister to me.
'The amount of trophies that she has won is just incredible and she’s just a fantastic role model, not only to young kids but for me and the other players as well.'
Ellan adds, 'Hopefully we will still have her around and promoting the game because she is the ambassador for the Champions League; she is brilliant for women’s football and increasing awareness.'
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