Hege Riise is to have the honour of being the GB Football head coach who will lead the Team GB squad into this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Riise, a gold medal winner as a player with Norway at the 2000 Games, will combine the prestigious role with her ongoing duties as interim head coach of England Women before the home nations unite as a GB football squad to begin their preparations in June. Following the Olympic Games, Riise will continue in her role with England until Sarina Weigman’s arrival in September.
Riise will be assisted by Rhian Wilkinson with whom she formed an immediate successful partnership during England Senior Women’s February international camp at St. George’s Park, with a further coach to be announced in due course.
Team GB will be one of 12 international teams taking part in the football tournament at the rearranged Tokyo Olympic Games, with matches taking place between 21 July and 6 August.
It will be the first time Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be represented at the Olympics since London 2012, with the squad qualifying via England’s run to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-finals. The FA is the nominated country from the home nations to deliver the GB football programme, and the final squad of 18 will be based on consideration of players from across the home nations.
The recently announced partnership with the National Lottery will deliver crucial investment to support the squad’s preparations before departing for Japan. This will include a warm-up international match on home soil, as well as providing for training camps and the squad’s travel and logistics needs.
Baroness Sue Campbell, The FA’s director of women’s football, said: “We could not have been more impressed with the impact that Hege and Rhian have had in such a short space of time with England Women, particularly during our recent international camp at St. George’s Park. I am in no doubt that their Olympic experience and management expertise will provide the squad with the best possible opportunity to succeed at the Tokyo Games.
“I cannot stress enough how crucial the National Lottery’s support will be as we look to achieve Olympic success this summer. While the 18 players and support staff will feel the direct benefit, we will also be able to inspire countless numbers of young girls and boys just at a time when we need to lift the spirits and aspirations of youngsters to get involved in the grassroots game after such a challenging year. We want this to be another pivotal moment for women’s football on the global stage.”
Riise said: “I know first-hand as a former player just how huge the Olympics are as a tournament and I am enormously proud to have this opportunity to lead the GB squad into the Games. We will go there to give everything we have to be successful and I hope we can also use the power of the Games to help women’s football continue to grow in popularity.
“I thank The FA for their trust in me, and also the National Lottery for the backing they are giving to the team. This kind of strong support is so important if we are to go there and perform to the best of our abilities.”
Team GB will learn who they will face on 21 April when the draw for the women’s and men’s tournaments are held in Tokyo. Nine other competing nations have been confirmed so far in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, United States and Zambia. The remaining places will go to the winners of the play-offs being held next month between Cameroon v Chile and Korea Republic v China.
National Lottery players have played a crucial role in supporting Olympic and Paralympic athletes since the 1996 Games and this partnership ensures the very best for the Team GB football team in Tokyo. This sits alongside the significant contribution National Lottery funding makes to women’s and girl’s football at a grassroots level – including a £1m contribution to the participation legacy of the UEFA Women’s EURO in 2022.