Hope Powell and keeper make schoolboy errors on Newsround

 

Linkoping

It was the "absolutely, why not?" that did it. Hope Powell's opening gambit when asked, on the children's TV programme Newsround, whether the England women's team could beat the men if they played them has sparked fierce debate and a host of contemptuous comments hurled in the women's coach's direction.

Powell, interviewed by a schoolboy for the BBC show ahead of the women's Euro 2013 tournament in Sweden, where on Friday England lost their first group game 3-2 to Spain, quickly qualified her answer by adding: "Physically the guys are obviously a lot stronger than the women, but if we took it on technical ability we're as good as the men."

The reaction to her comments surprised the coach who has driven the development of the women's game in England since taking charge of the national team in 1998 and who, in reality, does not believe that her team would beat Roy Hodgson's men or indeed any top professional male team.

Powell said: "If anybody out there took those comments seriously then they're stupid. When a young boy who's a bit nervous is interviewing you about football you try to make them feel comfortable, so, 'Can women beat men? Why not?' was a bit of fun, it was said tongue in cheek. Am I serious about it? No I am not. If you're talking about elite athletes the men are too fast, too strong, too powerful for us, but our players are technically gifted and so when a young boy – who incidentally can play mixed football up to the age of 14 or 15 – asks you that question you try to make light of it.

"Would we beat a men's team 11 v 11? I doubt it. But it's not about being competitive against the men, we're just trying to do a good job with women's football and right now we're trying to be competitive in a European Championship. We're competing at the highest level and we want recognition in our own right, not to be compared with the men's game."

Whether the technique of female footballers should be compared to that of their male counterparts is a moot point, but the technical skills of Powell's players were brought into question against Spain. Eleven places lower than England at 18th in the world rankings, the Spaniards out-thought and out-passed England in a game where their victory was deserved even though it came via an own goal by goalkeeper Karen Bardsley four minutes into stoppage time.

Bardsley, outstanding in England's unbeaten qualifying campaign for the finals, allowed the ball to bounce off her arm and then face to drop over the line.

Powell, looking ahead to Monday's second group game, against Russia, asserted that lessons will be learned from the defeat. There's also perhaps a lesson to be learned from her Newsround appearance: as they say, "never work with children or animals".

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot