Bradley backs boys to be a hit in 2012
NOTTINGHAM'S Sophie Bradley has urged football's powerbrokers to settle their differences and give Team GB the green light for 2012 after spending the past month as part of the BOA's Ambition Programme.
The 18-year-old centre back was given the chance to soak up the atmosphere at Team GB's warm-weather training camp in Macau before heading to Beijing to witness Britain's most successful Olympic Games since London was host 100 years ago.
The England under-19 captain was one of 152 youngsters who were given the chance of a lifetime by the British Olympic Association with the aim to help young athletes realise their potential in four years' time.
But Bradley knows her participation in London is still in the balance with the football governing bodies of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all opposed to the notion of a Great Britain team, fearing the implications for their own futures as separate entities.
"All the girls really want there to be a GB team at the next Olympics," said Bradley - who began her career at Nottingham Forest before joining Leeds in 2006.
"It has never been done before but the experience would be huge and would help women's football grow in this country.
"The Olympics are above the Euros or World Cup and would bring on the women's game and put it in public eye.
"We don't know when it will be confirmed or if there will be a team but it is good to get out here and see what is like, and prepare for it. I aim to compete in the Olympics and am desperate for the situation to be sorted out."
The BOA's decision to fund the scheme follows research that athletes are more likely to reach the medal podium if they have been to a Games before.
Several Olympians linked up with Bradley and co. in the Far East including Sydney heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis.
And Bradley, who played in last season's FA Cup final at the City Ground, admitted the opportunity had been one she will cherish for the rest of her life.
"It was amazing to watch the football here, unbelievable to see it live," she added after watching the USA claim gold in the women's event.
"But the highlight is the experience of speaking to top athletes like Denise Lewis and see how the current athletes prepare, we think we work hard at training but they train so hard it is unbelievable.
"It is great to see the Olympic village and should stop all of us getting star-struck in 2012."