Interview: Arsenal, England and Team GB's Ellen White

Interview: Arsenal, England and Team GB's Ellen White
© PA Photos
Female football striker Ellen White talks to Sports Mole about all things Arsenal, England and Team GB.

Despite only being 23, Ellen White has already featured in the Champions League, a World Cup and the Olympic Games.

She has also branched off into the media recently, having agreed to work alongside ESPN and the Women's Super League to find a young television presenter.

We caught up with the striker to discuss the recent London Olympics, Arsenal's chances this season and what can be done to increase the number of spectators that watch the women's game.

What made you get involved with the 'Search for a Star' campaign?
"I was approached to be involved and I jumped at the chance. It's a fantastic opportunity for the young girls and boys to get involved and see a different side of the media. It's a great thing to be involved in and I'm excited about it."

As a judge, what will you be looking for in the candidates?
"I think I'm going to be looking for somebody to be themselves really and to have a great personality, which is something that you need to be a sports presenter. It would be good if the entrants can just be themselves."

The likes of Gabby Logan and Rebecca Lowe are established female sports presenters. Would you like to see more women within the industry?
"I think it would be fantastic. Gabby Logan and Rebecca Lowe are fantastic presenters and women in sport. They are really good role models for aspiring and young sport presenters. It is also something that I'd like to get more involved in in my career."

On a personal level, you've just finished competing at the Olympics for Team GB. How did you find the experience?
"It was unbelievable. I can't really put into words what it was like, to be honest. A lot of people have asked me how it was and it was such an amazing experience that was so different. We recently played in the World Cup in Germany and it was weird to go from family and friends supporting you, to a whole nation behind you. It was a fantastic spectacle and we were really proud to have had so many come to back us and support us. It was such a great experience for women's football and I was proud to be part of it."

You mentioned the crowed there. Were you surprised by how many people turned up to watch your matches and the tournament as a whole?
"I think I was. In women's football we are used to a few hundred coming to our club games and then a few thousand coming to our international games. For it to be on that scale of 70,000 for the Brazil game, I think it took quite a few people by surprise. It really ignited the whole ethos of Team GB. For us to see many people screaming for us, it was kind of weird."

Did women's football at the Games raise the profile of the sport?
"I think it did tenfold, 100%. There are so many people that have said how many times they have watched the games and came to the games compared to the men's matches. It was a fantastic opportunity for us to raise the profile of the women's game and I'm certain we did that. We played some good football and we essentially kicked off the Olympics, which saw a lot of media interest. It was all over the papers come our first game and that is how stayed all the way through. Hopefully it can continue now the Olympics is done."

Would you like to do it all again in Rio de Janeiro at the next Olympics?
"I think it is something we wouldn't say no to. It would be an amazing opportunity again. I know there is a lot of political things over how we would qualify but I think we could get around that. To see what it did for women's football in this country, it will only get bigger and better. I think it would be a little bit criminal for us not to be in it again really. Everyone would love it if we were part of Rio."

Moving on to domestic matters, yourself and Arsenal have been playing in the recently-formed Women's Super League. What are the main differences between that and the previous competition?
"It's massively more competitive than our leagues were before. Every squad has got some good international players so it is definitely getting better and better. The whole of women's football has been moving slowly but hopefully with the WSL and the Olympics, it will progress. It's a fantastically competitive league. We go to win every game but it is not as easy as it used to be, which is a good thing."

Has it been better supported?
"There has been a massive increase. It's now all about keeping them people coming. For home games with Arsenal we tend to get around 700 people, which are quite big crowds. We've got a fantastic team behind Arsenal ladies who are very supportive. We've got a fantastic fanbase. All the clubs need to stick together and keep plugging away to increase the crowds and get people through the doors. There is definitely a lot more people come now, but it still could be a lot more."

Would playing at the Emirates Stadium more frequently perhaps increase the number of people that come to watch?
"I wouldn't say no that! I don't know whether that could happen. Arsenal are lovely in terms of letting us play there once a year. It's obviously hard with the amount of games that the men play to play there too often. But when we do it's really nice that they allow us to. Obviously it would be fantastic if we could play more games there. I think it would entice more supporters but we already get a decent crowd. When we played Chelsea at the Emirates we got a great crowd which I think was the biggest ever in the WSL."

You mentioned the Arsenal men's team there. How closely do you get to work with them?
"We train at their training ground so we are in quite close contact. They are always very supportive and wishing us the best. Obviously they are trying to concentrate on their own matches, but they are fantastic. It's great to train in their amazing facilities. It's like one massive club, which we are privileged to be part of."

In the men's Champions League, Arsenal and Barcelona have had some big battles over the past few years. It's now your turn after you were drawn against them in the European Cup. What are your thoughts on the game?
"It's going to be a very tough game. They beat Rayo Vallecano in their league to qualify to get into the Champions League. We've faced Vallecano twice recently and they've done very well to beat them. Once you hit Champions League football anything can happen. It's going to be a massive game and the fact that it is Barcelona versus Arsenal means it could be a very heated game. They've got nothing to lose and we've got a lot to lose because we want to go all the way. I think they play just behind the Nou Camp which is going to be pretty cool."

At the time of talking you are eight points clear at the top of the WSL. Are you confident of retaining your title?
"We're in a great position. Eight points clear is a very nice place to be. We've got some hard games coming up. We're not going to take anything lightly because we want to go the whole season unbeaten. We'll just take each game as it comes and hopefully pick up plenty of three points along the way to help us win the title."

Arsenal and England striker Ellen White is a judge on the broadcaster's and FA Women's Super League search for a new sports TV reporter. The winner will present their own TV report for ESPN. For more information on how to enter the competition, visit

Hope Powell
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