Little and Dieke defy Scottish FA to represent Team GB at Olympics
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
June 26 - Kim Little and Ifeoma Dieke have turned their backs on Scottish Football Association (SFA) wishes by accepting a call up by Team GB women's coach Hope Powell for London 2012.
Midfielder Little, who plays for Arsenal, had previously expressed her desire to compete in the Olympics if asked, despite the SFA fearing that the participation of its players would risk its football independence.
As insidethegames reported last year, Little (pictured below, in red) said that "if I get the opportunity I'll grab it with both hands – I would definitely play", adding that it was "the biggest sporting tournament ever".
A number of talented Scots could have been called up but have not; these include Julie Fleeting who, unlike her Arsenal club-mate, has said she did not wish to play for Team GB.
Powell made her historic announcement of the inaugural British women's team to take part in an Olympic Games today.
Although the Scottish duo, who boast 160 international caps between them, was picked, there was not a single Welsh woman named in the 18-strong squad.
Everton striker Gwennan Harries, who has won 53 caps for Wales, was among those passed over as was midfielder Jess Fishlock, who had said that she would have "loved" to play in the Games, although she conceded she would have been willing to take on board the views of the Football Association of Wales (FAW).
The snub may be a particular disappointment to the home crowd at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff for the opening event of the entire Olympic Games – Team GB's clash with New Zealand on July 25, two days before the Opening Ceremony.
On the other side of the coin, the fact that no Wales star is betraying the FAW by performing with Team GB will be greeted as good news in some quarters.
Northern Ireland's FA is also against its players competing – but, again, none was selected by Powell.
Instead, the coach has selected 16 English players and will be familiar to most of them given her role in charge of the England women's team.
Among the squad is Arsenal forward Kelly Smith, the scorer of 45 goals for England, who has recovered from injury to lead the Team GB charge.
She is joined by midfielder Rachel Yankey, striker Ellen White, defender Alex Scott (pictured top, centre, alongside Hope Powell and Andy Hunt) and utility player Steph Houghton, all of whom play for Arsenal, English women's football's dominant force which won the inaugural FA Women's Super League in 2011.
Also named for London 2012 are Birmingham City strikers Eniola Akulo, Karen Carney and Rachel Williams, the last named who can also play in midfield, who all played pivotal roles in helping the Blues wins its first FA Cup in May.
Among the squad are players plying their trade in Sweden, including Linköping goalkeeper Karen Bardsley (pictured below), and defenders Anita Asante, of Gothenburg, and Dieke, who plays for Vittsjö GIK.
"Narrowing my squad down to 18 was very, very tough because of the calibre of player we've got coming through now," said Powell.
"This is a great chance for these players to be involved in something huge and it gives us a great platform to further raise the profile of the women's game."
Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt added: "I'm immensely proud to welcome the women's football team into Team GB for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
"Having the opportunity to field a women's team at the Olympics is a truly historic moment for us.
"The squad includes veterans who have played for some of the best club sides in the world right through to those whose potential is still blossoming.
"But for all of them the opportunity to represent Great Britain at a home Olympic Games is a new and unique experience.
"We all share their excitement in being part of the legacy of London 2012."
Hunt continued: "In Hope Powell the team has not only a vastly experienced and respected coach but also a true ambassador for the game.
"The strength of the Team GB selection owes a great deal to the work she has done for women's football and she will be an inspirational figure to have on the touchline.
"The whole country will be behind the team when they kick off against New Zealand, and hopefully they can set the tone for a successful Games by getting off to a winning start."
Stuart Pearce is likely to announce his men's squad for London 2012 later this month.
September 2011: I'd definitely play for Britain at the Olympics given the chance, says Scot