Houghton and Stokes flying the flag for the North East in Tokyo

Not one professional team and not one team in the WSL. However, something the North East can be proud of is that it will have four representatives at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics.

Steph Houghton, Demi Stokes, Lucy Bronze and Jill Scott will be proudly flying the flag for the North East, 5,765 miles away in Tokyo.

Both Houghton and Scott were part of the 2012 London Olympics team and this time they will be accompanied by their Manchester City teammates.

There is currently a severe lack of funding compared to when the likes of Scott, Bronze, Houghton ad Stokes were coming through the ranks.

North East representation in Tokyo

However, for this summer, Houghton and Stokes will be ready to proudly pull on the Team GB shirt and do themselves and the country proud.

The North East is such a unique place. The distinctive accent, close-knit communities across thousands of miles and the ability to make people realise the North of England does still matter.

To be proud of where you come from while being an athlete is the peak of anyone’s career, as Stokes explained: “I watched Steph and I watched Jill at the last Olympics and to be going with them and to be representing the North East with Team GB is a great honour.”

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If you looked back at your career and realised that you were the top scorer for Team GB at the Olympics, captained club and country, won the league and were set to be a two-time Olympian… surely you would be content. Not Houghton.

For, what Sir Alex Fergusons described as just a ‘wee place up North’, it is doing quite well for itself. Houghton was almost unable to hide her smile when speaking about the North East contingent.

Living the dream with people you’ve grown up with

“There’s quite a good North-East contingent, not just in the England squad but also in Team GB. Obviously I’ve grown up with Jill and Demi and I think when you get to these moments and you experience these tournaments with the people you’ve grown up with it makes them even more special.

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“So, I’m obviously delighted for Demi, Jill and Lucy so hopefully we can do the North East proud.”

Having a football team at the Olympics is a truly special occasion because it very rarely occurs. Knowing how few opportunities there are for girls in the North East it is immensely proud to see four players in the squad.

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