Bertelli Blog - BBC, women’s football, smarting and acknowledgements

Blame the BBC for me writing this blog….it’s Wednesday afternoon and I’m sitting down to watch England Women’s Football Team on BBC2. It’s great to see women’s sport being televised live so soon after the Olympic Games and there are some familiar faces from the Team GB squad in London, including a couple of my ex-teammates from when I played for Charlton Athletic.

Listening to the national anthem, seeing the girls in white ‘up for it’ and Croatia being the opposition brings many thoughts of our European Qualifiers last week. I hope that from a results perspective that’s where the similarities end. I’m still hurting about our trip to Croatia, we ended up finishing 3rd in our group with 1st going directly through to the finals and 2nd going through to the final qualifying round. We won 2 games, which is better than we have ever done before, but we had the opportunity to make even more history than gaining an Olympic win. Not taking that opportunity is smarting deep inside.

Charlton WFC days....embarrassing photo!

Just listening to the football pre-match interviews, it’s a big day for one of those players…Casey Stoney, captain of the team and being acknowledged for her 100th cap. I played with Casey for 2 years and she is a proud, hard working, committed, team player who deserves the recognition she has received from both the FA, her teammates and the media in the build up to this game.

I achieved my own milestone recently, having represented GB over 100 times – in fact I think it was my 100th cap in the last Olympic match vs Japan, but if not, definitely during the European Championships Qualifiers (there is sometimes debate as to what constitutes an ‘official’ match). At the time, it gave me a confidence boost knowing I had done this 100 times before but ultimately I was focused on the match in hand.

Why am I writing about this now…..watching this footy today and still in my own contemplative mood, there are three reasons:

I wanted to have the opportunity to say this!

The first is that, I love playing for my country and its important to have the opportunity to say thankyou to my family, teammates, coaches and support staff who have supported me along my journey and made it possible. Thank YOU so so much. On reflection, I am very proud of this achievement; for myself, my family and friends and I am honored to have had the opportunity to represent GB 100 times.

The second reason is that for the GB Women’s team to have played 100 international matches is huge and should be acknowledged, the effort that has gone in off the court by our coaches to provide the funding and the opposition for us to have these official matches is huge and it’s so important. It’s where we get the opportunity to be tested under ‘real’ pressure  and it is so difficult to simulate in any other way than the real thing. If you look at good (level 2) European nations, their players have played 100’s of international matches at senior level, on top of their junior internationals. Having to deliver under pressure is what makes you a better player – you practice strategies and its about being able to use them in that high pressure situation. The more opportunities you get to practice the correct strategies, the more automatic and more effective they become and ultimately you deliver the outcome/performance better!

The third is that I am a little irritated that nobody else has. I find it embarrassing that as I watch Casey Stoney being acknowledged and appreciated for her contribution to the England team and the sport; myself and my 100 cap teammates (I believe I’m not the only one with a couple of other GBW players possibly achieving that milestone in the second leg of the Euro Champs) have not been acknowledged by the British Volleyball Federation for this achievement. The funding decisions, the impact on the GBW, and our squad’s response to continue our journey through our own means are well known. We have adopted a positive approach and discouraged any criticism of our governing body in any way, shape or form. The reality is we have gone through some tough times as a squad but never have we given less than 100% when we are wearing the GB flag - in a training session or a match. A small bit of appreciation from your governing body goes a long way… acknowledging and rewarding positive achievements encourages the athlete to want to give more, achieve more and do it again.

So, back to the football…happy to see England winning 2-0, they are by far the better team and should be four or five goals ahead. Skill levels looking good, qualification for the Euro finals is going to happen, a goal from Casey would top it off! I’ve enjoyed seeing women’s sport on the tv again and interesting piece at half time about the strategies they are using to develop the women’s game. Thanks BBC sport, now it’s time for a cuppa!

Breaking News….Stoney delivered the goal, what a great finish!

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