Exclusive - Ellen White: Successful World Cup will help to grow the game in England
England striker Ellen White thinks the Lionesses' great showing in Canada will attract talent to the FA Women's Super League - and improve domestic coaching.
White was part of Arsenal Ladies' tour to Japan in 2011, which gave the players insight into the contrasting coaching and tactical styles found there.
"It was an incredible experience to go to Japan," reflected White in Edmonton, where England will take on the defending world champions on Wednesday.
"We were very lucky to be able to go over there and witness some of the coaching styles that they adopt. They’ve definitely got some amazing technical ability, and I think they start that at a grassroots level and it goes all the way through, up to the seniors.
"It’s incredible to see the amount of hard work they put in to be very technically gifted players and I think that’s starting to happen a little bit more in England, and hopefully that can continue. It was amazing to be over there and see how they coach and how they work, and definitely something we can learn from and use in our country as well."
White left Arsenal just as Japan's Shinobu Ohno and Yukari Kinga were joining at the end of the 2013 season, but hopes that the increased profile for women's football in England will attract more top international talent to the FA Women's Super League (WSL).
"It’s incredible to get Japanese players playing in the WSL, and hopefully from this World Cup we’ll get some more from all around the world," she added.
"It’s fantastic that they acknowledge the WSL as a really good league and somewhere they want to come to. To have international players from around the world coming to our league can only make it stronger and better."
Ellen White celebrates with Sophie Bradley against Japan in 2011Reuters
White and her team-mates are very aware of Japan's strengths and are preparing fully for the semi-final showdown - but they will go into the game with confidence after a terrific campaign that has seen them beat Mexico, Colombia, Norway and hosts Canada.
"We’ve got fantastic staff behind the scenes working on all the tactical knowledge and how our game plan will work against them," she said.
"But they’re not going to want to give up their world champion status very lightly, so it’ll be a very difficult game. They’re very technically gifted and they’re going to want to be on the ball a hell of a lot, so we have to pick and choose our moments to penetrate and go for goal."
Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium is another new ground for England, who have also played in Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver over the past three weeks.
"We’re looking forward to another new stadium," said White. "We’re looking forward to seeing what it’ll be like, and we hope we'll get another big crowd."
England play Japan in the Women's World Cup semi-final on Wednesday night, kick-off at midnight.
The match is live on Eurosport, with the programme beginning at 23.45 BST.