The Team GB midfielder Kim Little is not on Twitter. Little did she know she was trending on Wednesday. Little did she know that clips of her nutmegs and silky play in the team’s opening game against Chile were making the rounds on social media.
“I didn’t see any of them – I remember them,” said the 31-year-old Arsenal midfielder with a wry smile. “It’s nice to hear that people enjoyed my performance, but mostly the team’s and I’m just happy that I can bring my strengths to the squad and I hope it helps us win games.”
There wasn’t much here; not literally here, in Sapporo, but at the Olympics. Along with Ifeoma Dieke, she was one of two Scots in the squad for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Little has played for big clubs in some of the biggest leagues and is no stranger to it at this stage, but it doesn’t feel like a business trip. “Part of our livelihood is playing football to get results. So there’s always that element to get the job done, ”she said before leading Team GB in their second group game against Japan at the Sapporo Dome on Saturday. “Being able to express yourself at the Olympics and make a living from it is the ultimate. As much as it’s business in a way, since we’re here to win games and win the tournament, it’s a lot of fun. “
Little and her Scot in this incarnation of Team GB, Manchester City’s Caroline Weir, made an impressive midfield, with City’s Keira Walsh anchoring them. Little has played with some cadres at Arsenal and previously with Team GB, and Weir has Little and nine teammates from City to make the transition to a mostly English team seamless.
“The way we play football makes it easy to connect with one another on the pitch, see each other’s runs and combine movements well,” said Little. “It’s been great to play with new players and some of the best in the world and we all thrive on it and hope that we can get better and better as the tournament progresses.
“I don’t think I’ve played with anyone as fast as Lauren [Hemp]. As a midfielder I’m pretty central and I think once she has room and is wide it is my job to get the ball one on one to her and then maybe walk away to give her room and not always go. We did well [against Chile]. These connections with Lauren and other players are what make what we do so fun. “
Caroline Weir in action against Chile at the Sapporo Dome, which she describes as “one of the coolest places I’ve ever played”. Photo: Masashi Hara / Getty Images
Weir says pre-existing connections helped her settle in. “I’m glad that many Man City team-mates are here. [plus] Kim and I played with pretty much everyone else, except maybe Fran [Kirby], Millie [Bright], Racha [Daly],” She said.
Team GB returns to the enclosed Sapporo Dome – which Weir calls “one of the coolest places I’ve ever played”, also because they “loved it that it wasn’t hot” – to take on an entirely different challenge from Chile posed.
Japan won’t have the advantage of having a home crowd, but Little said, “All footballers would say they would much rather play with an audience, whether they are for or against you, so obviously that’s a big mistake with this tournament. ”
The team has reviewed games against Japan that Little and Weir faced at the 2019 World Cup. “It was a very tough game for us and we need to be prepared for it as well as possible, especially since they are their home nation and they have such great technical skills,” said Little.
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“I like the challenge of playing all different types of players again, be it physical, fast or technical. Japan probably has a general theme more than most, while our team is strong in so many areas and I hope we can use that to help us succeed. “
Does this team from GB think they can achieve a lot? “I think so,” said Weir. “We try not to think too far ahead. We know we have talent – it’s such a competitive squad. There will probably be a lot of rotation just because we have the squad for it and the games are tight and fast. “