Football - England hero White: Women's game will thrive

Former England captain Faye White believes the growth spurt in women's football can see the sport double in size over the next decade.

PA Sport
Football - England hero White: Women's game will thrive
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Faye White earned 90 caps for England

The London Olympics was seen by many as a watershed moment, with Great Britain beating Brazil at Wembley in the group stages in front of the biggest crowd ever assembled for a women's football match in this country.

Although the hosts' hopes of a medal were dashed by Canada in the quarter-finals, it was an overwhelmingly positive experience and there are plenty of opportunities for more success this year.

England have again qualified for the European Championship finals in Sweden this summer and will aim to go one better than four years ago, when they were runners-up to Germany.

The omens are positive for Hope Powell's team after they repeated their triumph of 2009 in winning the prestigious Cyprus Cup last week, defeating Canada in the final. Pregnancy prompted White to retire from international duty last spring after 15 years' service, with her son Lukas born in October, but she remains a key player for all-conquering Arsenal.

The Gunners have their sights set on a 10th consecutive domestic title and, with the Champions League final to be played at Stamford Bridge on May 23, they have an extra incentive to reach the European showpiece.

Arsenal won the title in 2007 and play the first leg of their quarter-final against Italian side ASD Torres on Wednesday. White told Press Association Sport: "We're excited, the girls are certainly ready. Champions League games are always big games. We've got a lot of experience in this tournament.

"In 2007 we were underdogs against a strong Swedish team. This year I think most people are looking at Lyon because they're packed with international players and they've won it the last two years. But they have to get to the final first.

"It's the biggest competition you can win with your club so it's very special. The final's at Stamford Bridge so, after the Olympics, it's another ideal opportunity for more people to come out and discover women's football and see the talent and the quality on the pitch.

"It's at the home of the current men's champions, which is a nice link, and the final being in London gives us an added impetus. We missed out two years ago when the final was at Craven Cottage so this is a great opportunity."

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