With the recent news from Team GB of Hege Riise’s appointment, I had an in-depth look at her career. From World Cups to solo recognition, the Norwegian sporting icon has it all. Here are three key reasons that could make the difference for Riise and her aim to take home gold with Britain at the upcoming Olympic Games.
Wealth of Experience
Both as a player and coach, Riise has an impressive abundance of experience. A respected internationalist with 188 caps is only the surface – 58 goals within them. The Norwegian retired her boots in 2006 aged 37, accumulating over 20 years’ worth of valuable footballing experience in some of the world’s best leagues and teams in their time.
Swapping the kit for the coat, Riise transitioned from player to trainer at Team Strømmen where played her last top-level game. This role became the foundation to a successful reign of coaching roles – including three years of being assistant to Pia Sundhage at the USWNT. Now, the 51-year-old holds the temporary throne to the Lionesses (England WNT) before Sarina Wiegman takes charge. With access to some of the best players in the world, it can only be beneficial to both the squad and their boss.
Women in Power
With a female being in charge of a group of elite female athletes, it provides relatability and inspiration. Women’s football is a tough industry with countless obstacles to overcome. It can only be a positive thing for her team to have a veteran of the game at hand. Being an Olympian herself, Riise will have crucial advice to give to her soon-to-be selected squad. Advice that not many others are in the position to give.
In a different light, having a female in power of such a prestigious position in sport will only show the players that there is life after football. Looking at potential male candidates that could be in her place, it shows that the women’s game is progressing.
In her illustrious career so far in football, Riise holds honours that some only dream of. From the Japanese leagues, to a two-time Carolina Courage MVP, there are honours on Riise’s list that scream ‘winning mentality’. Football starts with a team, so personal goals aren’t often spoken about. But, being voted the ‘best female Norwegian footballer ever’ by the NFA is an extraordinary recognition to the triumphant solo efforts the Lørenskog native had shown throughout.
One in three is a tiny statistic to be part of. Only three women in the world have won the Olympics, the World Cup, and the European Championships. Alongside two fellow Norwegians, Riise holds a medal to three of the biggest international sport competitions in the world. To be one of these three women that hold a calibre so astounding says enough.
Team GB have a natural born winner leading them from the front. There’s no doubt success hangs in the balance.