Women’s World Cup 2019: England prepare with Marines

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Georgia Stanway will play in her first World Cup this summer
Women’s World Cup
Host nation: France Dates: 7 June – 7 July 2019
Coverage: BBC website will have live text commentaries on all England and Scotland matches and you can listen to commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, online and on the Red Button

Courage. Determination. Selflessness.

These are the first three words on the Royal Marines’ website and perhaps the reason England women boss Phil Neville turned to the Navy in preparation for next month’s World Cup.

It takes all those things to win it, after all.

England players were surprised by the Marines at their training ground on Wednesday.

The squad were told they had one minute to put their phones in a box before being given rucksacks, ration packs and tarpaulin to set up camp for the night.

“We went through some logical challenges, some brain-teasers and a few physicals to try and test us under pressure and see how we cope as a team,” says Manchester City forward Georgia Stanway.

“I was awful. I was trying to rush everything. Steph [Houghton, England captain] was good. She was our leader. We had Phil [Neville] as well.

“We kept calm in the moments where we were struggling – that was the most important bit.”

The team were put through their paces at St George’s Park and Stanway admits she and her team-mates were “put to shame” by their trainers.

The players had to undertake memory tests, cross fake quicksand using planks and recover sandbag dummies from a reconstructed plane-crash scenario.

Two of the Marines were amputees and told the side about their experiences, something which put football into perspective for Stanway.

“It took us aback,” she adds. “We’re just playing football whereas theirs is life and death.

“They’re not even getting the credit for protecting our country whereas we’re just going out and playing a game of football.”

After being tested mentally and physically, the squad cooked their own meals on stoves and followed it up with marshmallows round the campfire.

It was not all happy camping, though, and Stanway admits she was quite sleep deprived the next day.

“The camping was awful,” she says. “A lot of the girls didn’t have much sleep.

“As soon as we arrived we had to cover ourselves in face paint so that we couldn’t get recognised in the bushes. Everyone was scrubbing that off this morning, everyone’s got spots.

“But it was good team-building because we chilled and chatted and it was good to get that in a different environment.”

England, who finished third at the 2015 World Cup, begin their campaign against Scotland on Sunday, 9 June.

They will also face Argentina and 2011 champions Japan in the group stage.

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