England's Karen Bardsley talks exclusively to JOE about the Women's World Cup
After a brilliant third-place finish at the World Cup, England Women are basking in the glory of their achievement, with keeper Karen Bardsley pivotal to the team's success.
Bardsley has since returned to domestic duty with Manchester City, but took time out to talk to JOE and reflect on a history-making tournament.
JOE: How did you celebrate England's amazing achievement?
KB: We had a small celebration in Canada after the game but to be honest we've not had time to celebrate properly - until yesterday. The team had breakfast with Prince William, a brief chat with David Cameron and a fantastic afternoon at Wimbledon. Decent. However, it has all been business as usual today as we're preparing for our first match back after the World Cup break.
— KAREN BARDSLEY (@klbardsley) July 9, 2015
JOE: Your reflex save against Germany was superb. Is that one of your best saves? And was it extra special because it came against Germany?
KB: In terms of the save's context, it's definitely a favourite and it wasn't too bad technically either. You could say it was a bit more special because it was against the Germans; they're prolific goalscorers and we've never beaten them. We knew that keeping a clean sheet would be difficult but paramount if we were to win. It was a massive moment for the team and for myself, it was one of those saves that solidified our performance and bolstered our confidence. We knew we would win after that.
JOE: The England v Canada game was brilliant - was that your favourite match to play in?
KB: That was a huge game for us! I was so proud of how we handled playing against the host nation. We were passionate, savvy, aggressive and streetwise. However, my personal favourite was against Norway. Sure, we may not have started out very well but the character we showed to come back from a goal down was incredible. I think that really set the tone for the games to come.
JOE: How did you find England coach Mark Sampson's management style?
KB: Mark has grown so much since he took over the role 18 months ago. I think his ability to learn from experiences and adapt to any situation is probably his biggest strength. In preparation, we obviously did a lot of work on the pitch but the work we did off it was pivotal.
We worked on goal setting, mental preparation and general team building, etc. During the World Cup he gave us a lot of freedom to get out of the hotel and switch off. We were allowed to go out with friends and family and enjoy ourselves which translated onto the pitch in my opinion. Overall, in camp, it felt much more unified and relaxed.
JOE: A record 25.4 million people watched the final in the States. How did you find the support both away and at home? Do you think the UK is lagging compared to support for the USA?
KB: The support we had while we were away was good to start, but it was absolutely brilliant in the later stages. The amount of positive support and feedback we were getting was very encouraging. It made me so happy to hear that people were proud of the way that we were representing the English people.
I loved the atmosphere when we played Canada in Vancouver. I've never heard noise like it before! It was amazing to score two early goals and really quieten the crowd. However, when they scored they sound was actually deafening. I could feel it in my chest too. Incredible!
These are the experiences that we should be aiming to replicate domestically. Support for women's football is growing, but like anything it takes time to change perceptions. The next step is empowering and embracing women in sport, making it acceptable among the mainstream population. It helps that there is more media coverage than ever before but it needs to continue in order to inject change.
JOE: You are probably aware of a social media post by the FA which said England's women's team were "going back to being mothers, partners and daughters". It has since been deleted due to the backlash. What do you think of the tweet?
KB: No one in the squad was offended by it and we know how much the FA supports us and women's football.
JOE: There were a lot of complaints about the artificial pitch. If you could change three things ahead of the next World Cup, what would they be?
KB: Grass. Branding restrictions. And Powerade water bottles!
JOE: And finally, can you tell us how you and the team were motivated before a match? What music was played in the dressing room?
KB: It varies for every player. Some of the girls like to chill, others like to dance. I like to have fun and distract myself until we begin the warm up, like throw a baseball around. We played quite a variety of music throughout the tournament. Lots of hip-hop, R n' B and pop. Garage, house and oldies get thrown in every once in a while too. We're quite an eclectic bunch to be fair. I was on a random indie, rock and country kick while I was in Canada. Safe to say I had my headphones on for the majority of the time...
- Karen Bardsley is a Brand Ambassador for Healthspan Elite - the UK's leading supplier of vitamins and supplements for professional athletes.
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