June 21, 2022

Inspiring a Nation: Reflections on our involvement with the Women’s Euros

The UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 showcased the best of women’s football and demonstrated the growing interest and commercial potential for women’s sport. The tournament will make a lasting impression on the women’s game, and the Travel Places team was proud to be a part of it.

Now that everyone involved has been able to take a well-earned break, we spoke with our own Jenny Griffin, Senior Events Consultant, to reflect on her involvement in the ground-breaking competition.

How long have you worked with the England Women’s team?

I’ve worked closely with the Football Association since the end of 2017, shortly after joining Travel Places. My role has consisted of working across a number of the FA teams, booking the flights for development teams and occasionally the senior teams. Since the start of 2022, however, I’ve worked a lot closer with the Women’s team and have become integrated as part of the overall support staff whenever they travel.

Explain your role in the support staff team for the Women’s EURO 2022?

My work on the EURO 2022 competition started many months ago, when the schedule for the competition and the pre-tournament friendlies were decided. Before the tournament kicked off, the team played fixtures against The Netherlands in Leeds, and Switzerland in Zurich. Finding appropriate accommodation for the away game in Switzerland proved a challenge. Due to the requirements from the team, the hotel needed to be near a training ground and within an hour of Zurich, where the match was being played. I created a shortlist of hotels and approached a contact at Swiss super league team FC Basel to request use of their facilities for the team to train and prepare. The standard of the training facilities went above and beyond what the team were expecting and proved to be perfect preparation for the game (with England running out 4-0 winners!).

I always arrive at the next accommodation ahead of the team, which gives me the opportunity and time to make sure everything is in order and up to the standard they expect ahead of their arrival. After the Switzerland friendly, the team headed back to the UK and straight to a hotel in London, which acted as their base for the following weeks right up until the tournament was over.

With the Euro tournament venues being all over the country, the team stayed in a hotel local to the stadium they were playing in before each game. For the England team, this meant staying in Manchester, Brighton, Sheffield, and London. And despite these hotels being selected by UEFA, I still made sure I visited them before the team to guarantee they were exactly as expected, ensuring the players and coaching staff could fully focus on their performance.

What did a typical day look like for you whilst with the team?

Every day was different, which is what made this experience so enjoyable and challenging. On a standard training day, my responsibilities centred around being the link between the hotel and the team, ensuring there were no issues and everyone was as comfortable and relaxed as possible. On a matchday, the team had a set routine that they would stick to, and my job also revolved around helping them with this in any way possible. After the team had departed the hotel for the match, I would check the hotel and bedrooms before heading to the stadium myself. Following the match, I’d leave before the team to visit the next hotel and ensure it was ready for their arrival.

Did anything unique happen throughout the 4 weeks you were with the team?

The whole experience was unique and unlike anything else I have experienced in my time at Travel Places so far. But one thing that stands out was a pre-tournament trip to Nike Town in central London. In the lead-up to the opening game, we all visited the oxford street department store to attend an invite-only event, aimed at promoting the upcoming competition. This was the first time Nike Town had shut their doors for any single sports team, which really shows how far Women’s football has come in such a short space of time. As a team sponsor, Nike went to extreme lengths to make sure all the team were kitted out appropriately, even offering us all the chance to design our own training gear that was unique just to us.

What was your highlight moment, both sporting and non-sporting?

It’s fair to say there were many unforgettable moments for everyone involved. An obvious highlight was being on the pitch at Wembley after the final whistle, with the full squad and support staff celebrating the famous win in front of 90,000 fans. It all felt very surreal and gave me a glimpse of what the players had experienced throughout the competition.

Another stand-out moment from a sporting context would have to be Alessia Russo’s goal of the tournament in the semi-final. The goal itself was spectacular but being so close to the bench with the rest of the staff and witnessing everyone’s reactions was almost better than the goal itself. (Some of the player’s reactions are summed up by using one word in this short video from the England YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWPqI-34m0I.)

From a personal point of view, it was special to see how much the team loved playing at the Amex stadium in Brighton. I live in Brighton, and I was proud that everyone enjoyed their experience, from the hotel, to playing in front of the passionate crowd. This was evident in the tense quarter final match against Spain, to see the determination from the players and the elation at the end of extra time whilst having my own friends and family in the crowd was unforgettable.

What’s next for women’s football?

The Women’s Euros 2022 will be life-changing for all the players. The task now is turning this achievement into a long-lasting legacy, capitalising on the summer’s excitement and maintaining the momentum that has been building in recent months.

Work has already started on the upcoming international break with the Lionesses due to face off against Austria and Belgium in early September. This is followed by further international breaks over the season before full focus and attention turn to the 2023 World cup in Australia / New Zealand.

We hope to continue to support the FA every step of the way!

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