England women's coach gets OBE
F.A. National Women's Coach Hope Powell has been awarded an OBE in the Queen's birthday honours list.
She has been honoured alongside former England manager Bobby Robson who has been rewarded with a Knighthood for services to football.
The honour for Hope Powell comes four years after she joined The Football Association as the first ever female - and the youngest ever - National Coach.
Powell, the first full-time manager of the England Women's teams, was shocked at the news. "I am very surprised. I really didn't expect this to happen.
"I received a letter about six weeks ago telling me of my nomination, but I didn't say anything and I didn't know if I would get anything. It is an absolute honour to receive this.
"It has been a lot of hard work over the past four years and we are now making some achievements. I am very fortunate to have received this recognition and personally I am over the moon."
The Order of the British Empire caps a series of impressive achievements for Hope, who is a fully qualified 'A' Licence coach. Over the past year, Hope has taken the England senior team to the 2001 UEFA European Championship finals - their first major tournament in six years and the first under Hope's reign. Last month England qualified for the play-offs for the 2003 World Cup Finals in China, while the Under-19s reached the semi-finals of the UEFA European Championships and have reached the inaugural FIFA World Under-19 Championship, taking place in August in Canada.
Hope will be celebrating the news in Italy, where she is currently taking a well-earned holiday. She managed to tell her family the news though before her departure. "I've told my mum and she is delighted. It's funny because she found out in the same week that my brother was going to become a father for the first time. She said she was over the moon and was in tears," added Hope.
"I think this reward just reinforces the work that everybody at The Football Association has done on women's football so this is an honour for everyone. This is about the work done by everyone associated with the England women's teams, it's just that I am the figurehead. We really are making great strides forward for the game and it has come such a long way since when I started out as a player. I feel really fortunate to be involved at such an exciting time for Women's Football."
Hope Powell was appointed as the first ever full-time National Coach of the women's team in June 1998. An experienced international herself with 66 caps for England and 35 goals, she first played football with Millwall Lionesses at the age of 11 and has won the F.A. Women's Cup twice including the League and Cup Double as captain of Croydon in 1996. She retired from playing when she took up the role as F.A. National Coach.
Hope divides her time between scouting, devising a coaching strategy for all key national and local women's football coaches and managing the England teams - the seniors, Under-19s and Under-17s. As well as coaching of the national sides, Hope has also overseen the establishment of the first of its kind football scholarship for girls in England - the F.A. National Player Development Centre at Loughborough University.
During her time at Soho Square, Hope has introduced the Coaching Mentor scheme, a programme to give assistance and support to young or new female coaches. Hope is also a patron of the "Kick Racism Out Of Football" campaign and works tirelessly as an ambassador to promote the women’s game at all levels.
Powell is the second employee of The Football Association to be rewarded for work on women's football. A year ago, Kelly Simmons, who is now Head of National Football Development, was honoured with an MBE for her tireless work in developing the women's game. It is an exciting time for Women's Football, which has become the No.1 female sport over the past season and is continuing to grow at a prolific rate with 1.4 million girls taking part in some form of football last month.
MEDIA ENQUIRIES - please contact Bev Ward, F.A. Media Relations Officer - Women's Football on 07970 237082