Giggs wants British team to play on

Giggs wants British team to play on
By Sportsbeat

17/07/2012 at 21:07Updated 17/07/2012 at 21:44

Ryan Giggs believes Great Britain shouldn't treat this Olympic football tournament as a one-off - and commit to sending a team to every Games.

Team GB haven't played an Olympic tournament since 1960 and haven't even tried to qualify for 36 years - because of fears a united team would threaten the prized status of the home Football Association's in the world game.

But in comments bound to rile the Welsh FA - who with their colleagues in Scotland and Northern Ireland remain totally opposed to the teams' involvement - the 38-year old Manchester United midfielder hopes this tournament won't be the last.

Although quite how a British team would qualify remains unclear, with the UEFA Under-21 European Championships the current way into the Games, unless you are the host nation.

"I really hope this is not a one-off and I hope in future there will be more Great Britain football teams at the Olympics," said Giggs, whose comments were also backed by fellow Welsh international and Team GB striker Craig Bellamy.

"I'm Welsh and proud of it but this was a chance I couldn't turn down, it's the chance to be involved in the world's biggest sporting event.

"I've had nothing but great feedback from people I know about playing. The different FAs may have opposed it but everyone I've met has been nothing but positive and excited.

"I just hope that fellow British footballers can experience what I'm going through at the moment because, so far, it's been immense."

British coach Stuart Pearce and his team have just returned from a training camp in Spain, where they played and lost a behind closed doors friendly with Mexico.

They checked into the Olympic village this afternoon and were given a team talk by athletics legend Dame Kelly Holmes, while this week they will take on gold medal favourites Brazil in Middlesbrough with their first group match against Senegal in Manchester next Thursday.

Meanwhile, Pearce says he has no problems with his team marching in next Friday's opening ceremony, despite their second group game against the United Arab Emirates taking place at Wembley 48 hours later.

"It will be the players' decision about whether to attend," he added, with Giggs and Bellamy insisting they would be liked to be involved in the Danny Boyle produced showpiece.

"I would not force a player to be part of it but if they want to go then fine. The players know their own bodies but my focus is the game a couple of days after that at Wembley."

Pearce knows he is in uncharted territory - in contrast to other teams competing at the Games, who have established under-23 programmes designed to be competitive at the Olympics.

But he insists, his hurried preparations are on track.

"As a group we have gelled very well and I'm very pleased with the way we've come together, it was quicker than I thought it would be," he added.

"We need to come to the Senegal match 100 percent ready, that's the only focus right now. We'll get stronger as the tournament goes on and I'm just looking for a step up in performance against Brazil.

"Physically we are getting stronger by the day and we'll do all we can to be prepared. It's worth remembering though that teams like the UAE have played 17 friendlies as a group in the last 12 months and while these players know each other, we've only had one game as a team."

© Sportsbeat 2012