Team GB are up and running with a win in the women’s football before the opening ceremony has even taken place in Tokyo, and skipper Steph Houghton has warned there is more to come.
Houghton’s Manchester City teammate, Ellen White, scored a goal in each half as GB got the better of Chile 2-0 in Sapporo to hit the ground running in the group stages.
The sweltering conditions did not appear to affect the side, who hit the front after just 18 minutes when White nudged home Lauren Hemp’s header back across goal.
She then sealed the win with just over quarter of an hour remaining with an acrobatic finish from Lucy Bronze’s cross, but despite a convincing win, Houghton knows the team is capable of much more.
She said: “When you get into a competition, it’s really important you win that first game.
“We knew it was going to be tense in that first half with both teams finding their feet and rhythm.
— Steph Houghton MBE (@stephhoughton2) July 21, 2021
“There were passages of play where we really showed our mettle going forward and to keep a clean sheet is massively important. There’s still a lot of stuff to improve on but three points on the board, we’re really pleased.”
Heading into these Games, much has been made of whether athletes will be permitted to protest under the notorious rule 50.
While podium protests remain outlawed, the stance has been softened for other areas, and both Team GB and their opponents Chile took the knee before the game in a show of support for those facing discrimination and racism.
Houghton explained: “As players in Great Britain we’ve been taking the knee in club and international matches and we felt strongly as a group that we wanted to show support for those affected by discrimination and equality. It was a proud moment because the Chile players took the knee too to show how united we are as sport.”
— Team GB (@TeamGB) July 21, 2021
Houghton and White were two of the four players who are back for their second crack at the Olympics, having been part of the Team GB side in London nine years ago.
Then it was Houghton, the defender, who ended as GB’s top goal-scorer, but this time around it is striker White who has got off to a flying start ahead of a clash with hosts Japan in their second group game on Saturday.
White said: “I’m obviously delighted to contribute to the team winning, to score two goals. I feel really proud to open the Olympics with Team GB.
Collectively as a whole squad and staff, we’ve worked tremendously hard up to this moment and I feel proud of the whole squad. It doesn’t stop here for us, we now look forward to facing Japan.
“I feel really delighted with where I am at, at the moment, but I feel that there is more to come. As a squad, I feel we can still grow and get better as the tournament goes on.”