At last, a national team we can be proud of

As promised yesterday, a blog post about the impact that Team GB has made on the football in the Olympics so far and, in a remarkably prescient move, what an apt decision to delay writing a post about that team until tonight.

For after all, unless you have been sans radio, TV, Internet, mobile phone etc for the last three hours, you’ll know that the women’s football team from Great Britain defeated Brazil this evening and what a performance it was.

Anyone who knows anything about football is aware of the atypical British footballing performance in major tournaments; usually glorious failure or an underwhelming exit.

But this evening, something completely different was on display; a genuinely impressive team display from a football team from Britian.

Confession time, I’m coming from a period of slight ignorance here as I don’t watch women’s football as much as one should do given the quality in the sport nowadays so apologies for being late to a party that has been going for a while.

It is probably unfair to compare tonight’s performance to that of the male footballing teams in this country, but it is quite telling when one does so.

Firstly, were England (the men’s team) to take the lead very early on in a massive game at a huge competition, no spectators would feel confident in that lead being defended until the final whistle.

But this evening, Team GB’s women defended professionally, restricting their opponents to shots from distance and not allowing any real chances to jangle the nerves.

Secondly, this was not a defensive, backs to the wall performance built on grit and bravery, not solely at least, which is so familiar to any British football fan.

This was a performance of intelligence and vision with genuine counter-attacking football from the home side that kept on threatening to score (and probably should have done so) time and time again.

Yes, Brazil are not the best side in the world in women’s football and yes, Team GB probably will not win the top prize as there are some very good sides in this tournament.

Tonight, that does not matter one single jot.

What matters is seeing a genuinely world class performance from a football team from the United Kingdom that combined our traditional values of courage and bravery with intelligence and skill which is so masterfully orchestrated by Hope Powell who deserves the highest credit for her role in delivering such a performance.

Going into the Olympics, one suspects the football was viewed with a certain amount of circumspection and apathy from many, but the way in which the women’s team has gone about their business has, at the very least, got this writer excited and proud.

Tonight, let us raise our glasses to Powell, Kelly Smith, Karen Carney, Karen Bardsley, Steph Houghton and the rest for showing that British football can play the sport like the rest of the world and beat them too.

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