The SheBelieves tournament had a familiar theme for the England Lionesses; they played brilliantly but went down due to defensive errors. They ended their cup in second place among women’s football elite. United States came in first, with France in third, and Germany in fourth.
Everton defender Gabby George did not get any playing time but was available as a substitute for all three games. At only twenty-one years old, she is getting valuable experience training with the senior team.
According to George’s social media, she had a very positive experience:
Smile ...Great experience out in the USA for the #Shebelievescup ... lots of lessons learnt at my first senior tournament and ready to get back to club to continue working hard ! ⚽️ #Lionesses pic.twitter.com/7FFsRg8O9j— Gabby George (@gabsgeorge) March 9, 2018
Former Everton player and current England manager, Phil Neville, believes there is a lot of talent among the squad fighting for George’s position in the backline:
“And now, for a position I thought we were struggling in, we’ve got Abbie [McManus], we’ve got Steph [Houghton], we’ve got Mille [Bright], young Gabby George and Leah Williamson, so there’s competition for places.”
The Lionesses started the tournament out in excellent fashion, beating France 4-1. The French side had started eight young, less experienced players and did not look like their usual self. Toni Duggan, Jill Scott, Jodie Taylor, and Fran Kirby all scored for England.
England went down against Germany but ended up coming back to draw 2-2. Ellen White was the hero of the game, scoring a brace.
In their game against United States, England could’ve won the whole tournament with a draw but ended up losing 1-0. The game was close and Ellen White had a shot bounce off the goalpost but USA dominated possession and won off of an own goal. Neville made sure that England remained on the pitch to watch the US team lift their trophy so that they will remember that “pain.”
He also expressed concern for the rigorous travel and schedule involved:
”We were made to travel through three or four different cities just to get here and I had one training session with the team before the first game, after a nine-hour flight.”
The east coast was hit with a nasty storm during their trip and players endured especially turbulent flights before their second game in Harrison, New Jersey.
Reportedly, the England women fly in economy. One has to wonder if the likes of Harry Kane and Theo Walcott of the England men’s team fly coach. Probably not. The England women are ranked third in the world while the men are ranked sixteenth.
The US Women’s National Team fought for equal pay and treatment, which included equal travel conditions because the men’s team flew in first class while the women flew in coach.
Neville believes that a restructuring of the WSL schedule could also be beneficial to the Lionesses:
”Why were Chelsea playing Manchester City on the day we met up as a squad? I had five players withdraw before we left England.”
”I need seven days with the team before a tournament if we are going to win it.”
”I’ve got to fight on behalf of my players to make sure they get the best.”
After experiencing firsthand what female athletes go through, is Phil Neville going to become a champion for equal rights for women despite his past record? Stay tuned!
The Lionesses have a World Cup Qualifying game against Wales on April 6th.
Gabby George is learning and will continue to prove herself for both country and club. Everton Ladies are back in action on March 25th against Yeovil Town. She will use the rest of the season to improve and gain experience before the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.