Wednesday, 15 February 2012

GB or Not GB. That is The Question

2012, the year of the London Olympics, an event which I personally am extremely excited about. I remember the day in early July in 2005 when it was announced that games would be coming to London. I was highly excited about this sporting masterpiece coming to my shores. I think the games will be fantastic for uniting and bringing the country together. The perfect example of this should the football team, uniting the home nations together under one banner for our national sport.

So why the resistance from the powers that be?
The Football Associations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have publicly made it clear that they are against a Team GB. There has been statements that there is competitive implications with FIFA that may jeopardize their international standing. Not that the word of FIFA is exactly trusting but they have given assurances that everything would be fine. These FA’s have made it public that players are free to choose for themselves whether they make themselves available. Privately however you get the feeling that these same officials are privately putting pressure on these players to turn down any invite. Gareth Bale recently received criticism for wearing a Team GB shirt for a photo shoot from the Welsh FA. Free to make his own decision is he?

So is national pride holding things back?
If it is, I sure hope not. For years athletes have competed under their country and Great Britain. Golfers for decades have united under the banner of Great Britain & Ireland and more recently the banner of Europe for the Ryder Cup. Then there is the British & Irish Lions, the unity of 4 rugby nations in battle on the rugby field. Rugby a sport driven by passion and aggression, where the occasional punch is thrown on the field. Every 6 nations the home nations stand face to face in battle, where more than the occasional drop of blood is spilt. Come the Lions however, these enemies unite to stand shoulder to shoulder in battle for a greater cause. So why can’t we as footballers unite in the same way?

Then there is the simple theory that this would be good experience for our countries young footballers. The harsh fact is that in recent years England have failed to perform at major tournaments and the other home nations have struggled to qualify. Youngsters like Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey have expressed their desire to play in the games and old dogs such as David Beckham and Ryan Giggs have also put up their hands. A tournament like this would be a fantastic experience for the likes of Bale and Ramsey as they lead Wales into a bright new future and hopefully major tournament appearances. As for Ryan Giggs a man that struggled on the international stage in a team of very average players, the Olympics could give him that one trophy that is missing from his cabinet, international glory. Who are we to deny that opportunity to one of the greatest players these shores has ever produced.

Finally they ask, is there room to have a Team GB every Olympics?
In my view, yes. If the pencil pushers at the top of the football associations can forget about everything and just think of the benefits from purely a players experience they would agree with me. As we all know however, the powers that be in sport, government, authority, life, don’t always think with common sense.

Greg Mackett

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