Great Britain Swans Head Coach Ian Mitchell says that he feels excited, nervous and proud as he prepares for his first major international tournament as Swans Head Coach, but insists that his side must “take every opportunity to develop and progress.”
Mitchell has played in two European Championships for the Great Britain Bulldogs, captaining the side that lost in the 2013 Grand Final with the last kick of the match, a result that Mitchell says “shaped his coaching.”
“I was incredibly honoured when Mark Pitura made me captain. It was a tournament of mixed emotions right up until the last minute. We had a very strong playing group; each member knew their role and what was needed to maximise performance for the group and to captain the first Great Britain side to reach a major final made me immensely proud. For that group to fall short with the last kick of the game was undoubtedly my lowest sporting moment.
“These tournaments can be decided by the finest of margins. We want to be on the right side of the result of another game goes to the wire like that one in Dublin six years ago.”
Now preparing for this year’s tournament, Mitchell has had time to sculpt a tournament with high turnover from the 2017 AFL International Cup, with just five players remaining from that tournament.
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“We’re much changed from our last two tournaments, but that shows the strength of women’s football at the moment. This group of ladies have worked hard to get to where they are and are hungry for success
“We have been working hard to create a culture of leaders among the group so I hope that every player in that squad feels that they can stand up and lead from the front in their own way.”
Regular training sessions up and down the country have ensured his team are well-drilled, and Mitchell hopes that his more experienced players can inspire and motivate the younger members of the squad.
“Whether that’s through inspirational team talks, actions across the week that embody the Swans’ values or simply by being relentless in pursuit of ball and opponent then I am confident that we have a collective capable of filling the gaps left by more experienced players.
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“Atmosphere continues to be one of focus and continuous improvement which is what we are aiming for. The willingness to share feedback and leadership is really something we are proud of.”
Facing the prospect of three matches in four days against their arch-rivals Ireland, Mitchell says that the games against Ireland won’t mean anything if they don’t beat Germany.
“The Germans are well-drilled and known for the physicality and immense enthusiasm for the game. They will be wanting to improve on their third place at the Euro Cup.
“Equal importance and respect will be paid to both sides at the EC. That said, it’s always nice to test yourself against the best side in the world and that excites us.”