Ella Toone says England players feel at home in Women’s World Cup camp

By Sports Desk July 15, 2023

England midfielder Ella Toone believes the Lionesses’ person-centred approach to the World Cup has prevented players from feeling “like robots” as they deal with the more difficult elements of travelling halfway around the world.

Should the European champions advance from their July 22 Haiti opener all the way to the August 20th Sydney final, they will have spent nearly two months in tournament co-hosts Australia, with a nine-hour time difference and more than 10,000 miles between the Lionesses and loved ones at home.

While England have quickly gotten down to business in their Queensland training sessions, they have also been permitted plenty of downtime including organised whale-watching and zoo trips or casual bonding with team-mates at the tranquil team hotel.

Toone said: “We’re just normal people, aren’t we? And it’s hard to be away from home, and it’s sometimes hard to be on camp for such a long period of time, but that’s why we’ve got to make a home-away-from-home and I think that’s what we’ve done really well.

“We’ve got a fantastic group of players who want the same goal, and yeah, I think we have to have that environment where we can feel like we’re at home, and we’re not just robots on camp and doing the same thing day in and day out.

“It’s nice to have a bit of time off and spend time together as well, and get to see beautiful Australia as well, it definitely helps us feel like we’re not robots.”

England manager Sarina Wiegman earlier in the week used the “robot” analogy when she spoke about how the holistic human approach taken by the Lionesses coaching and support staff was a deliberate choice, drawn partially from her own experience as a Netherlands international.

The boss recalled moments where she found it difficult to balance the serious task of preparing for big competitions with the more fun side of travelling to take on the world with her team-mates.

Toone was part of Wiegman’s squad for last summer’s Wembley triumph, and is eager to help any of the six Lionesses – Niamh Charles, Laura Coombs, Lauren James, Esme Morgan, Katie Robinson and Katie Zelem – for whom this World Cup will be their first major tournament.

“Some days will be hard,” Toone added. “But you’ve got to speak to people, tell them how you’re feeling. But I think we’ve all been there, we’ve all had days where they’re all going to be a bit harder than other days.

“We’re away from family for a long time which is hard, and obviously the time difference doesn’t help. You’ve definitely got to lean on the people around you, you’ve got to open up and understand that days are going to be tough but it’s how you deal with that and how you get on with it.”

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