England women hardened by military training for World Cup glory
BURTON-ON-TRENT – England's female footballers hope to make themselves national heroes by lifting the World Cup in France later this summer, but the pressure they face was put into perspective by a night in the wild with Britain's Royal Marines, according to Arsenal striker Beth Mead.
The Lionesses kick off their campaign in Nice on June 9 against Scotland, but with just over two weeks to go in preparation, manager Phil Neville brought in the Marines for a training camp with a difference on Wednesday night.
England's men's team enjoyed a similar experience last year before going onto reach the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia.
“We had our phones and everything took off us,” said Mead, who starred as Arsenal ladies claimed the Women's Super League title for the first time in seven years this season.
“We did loads of team building drills, then on the night we had to make our own food up, warm it all up over a fire in packets, and rip it apart, then we all slept in tents about an inch away from each other.
“We were sat round a campfire, singing together with the team, (it's) probably the most together we’ve been with England.”
After the disappointment of semi-final defeat at both the last World Cup in 2015 and European Championships two years ago, England are looking to win a major tournament for the first time in the women's game.
However, Mead said the experience of working with the Marines, some of whom had suffered amputations in combat, put into perspective how minor any troubles they face in the coming weeks are in the grand scheme of things.
“There were men there who had their legs blown off,” she added.
“It was inspiring for us. We think we are courageous when we are on a football pitch and we have people like that, it's part of his life, with half their body missing, It gives us a reality check.
“When we moan that we have a niggle, or our foot is hurting as I have a bruise, it puts things in perspective and I think it has been good for us.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)