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Women's Football News
England's take on the Czech Republic at the Keepmoat Stadium on next Thursday (20 March), with Head Coach Hope Powell and former England and Doncaster Belles legend Karen Walker issuing a rallying call today to the region's football fans.
Next week, the nineteen England players named today in the squad are set to receive a key boost too, in an historic tie-up with the PFA.
Last Thursday the Three Lions defeated Northern Ireland 2-0 in their latest UEFA 2009 European Championship qualifier, a win which gives Powell's side four wins out of four as they aim to follow up last year's World Cup adventures, with qualification to the Euro's in Finland next year.
England are currently five points clear of their next opponents, but Powell knows that this game will be the toughest to date. "This is our last home qualifier and then we have three tough away games, so any points dropped next Thursday could be the difference between qualifying or not," she said.
"Doncaster has a long association with women's football, and I really urge local football fans to come to The Keepmoat Stadium, give their support to the players and create an atmosphere that will inspire us to another crucial three points."
One former England player whose name is synonymous with women's football in Doncaster is Karen Walker. The centre forward now lives in Hull but played for the Belles for over 20 years, featuring in a dozen FA Cup Finals and also winning a memorable League and FA Cup double.
"Women's football has come on leaps and bounds" said Karen. "I was fortunate enough to still be playing club football with the newer players that have come through the last three or four years.
"The players are quicker and fitter now than they've ever been, and because women don't have the same raw power as men, you tend to see more female players who are good on the ball, as the game is played less at 100 miles an hour."
Walker represented the Three Lions 83 times, scoring 40 goals, and recalled the 1995 World Cup as her career highlight. "Watching the players on television when they were at the World Cup in China last September brought it all back. Being away in '95 in Sweden, for three weeks with 20 of your mates, playing the game you love, it's hard to beat, and hopefully a lot of young girls who go to the game next Thursday could be in the same position themselves in a few years."
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