Chelsea forward Fran Kirby says that friendships will be put to one side at the Olympics this summer.
Kirby has been selected to represent Team GB at the Games and there is the potential for the forward to meet her club teammate Sam Kerr later in the competition should both Great Britain and Australia advance out of their respective groups.
For their club, Kirby and Kerr netted 37 league goals between them while they contributed 18 assists. The pair struck up arguably the most deadly partnership in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League. When speaking to FAWSL Full-Time about the prospect of playing against Kerr this summer, Kirby said that she won’t hold back.
“I think of course it’s always special to play against people who you play with week in, week out on a scale like that,” Kirby said. “For so many of us to be able to go there and represent our countries in the Olympics, I think it’s something that we need to celebrate, obviously, as teammates and as friends.
“But I think obviously, when you come into a game situation, I think that kind of just gets thrown out the window. She (Kerr) knows a lot about my play and I know a lot about her play so I think we’ll be able to give a bit of info on each other.
“For me, it’s just exciting. I think it’s exciting for all of us to be involved and all of us to just go out there and have fun and be Olympians and be able to be in that environment together.
“I think it’s going to be really nice but I think once you get in that moment, you’re just completely focused on your team and you’re not trying to think about how you can make your friend happy. It’s about how can you win for your team.”
Team GB take on Chile in their first match at the Olympics, a side currently ranked 37th in the world. While Kirby and her teammates will know little about the players representing Chile, their opponents are likely to know much more about her given the global reach which the Barclays FA Women’s Super League now boasts. Commenting on the global broadcasting of the English game, Kirby said that while it would make Chile’s homework on Team GB easier, it is important to push the visibility of the game out there as far as possible.
“I don’t think it matters what rank any team has nowadays,” Kirby said. “I don’t think that is a really big, important stat anymore because I think in the women’s game, all teams are progressing, all teams are getting better.
“They are able to watch our games more and they are able to watch us but that’s what we want. We want people to be able to have access to watch us play and I still feel like there’s a long way to go in terms of being able to get it more publicised in other countries.
“I can’t sit here and say that I don’t like that they’re able to watch us because that’s what we’ve been working for and that’s what we’re growing for. Of course, they’ll be able to watch us play but we need to make sure that we focus on ourselves and focus on what we are good at and when we are at our best, I think we’re able to get good results.”
Team GB’s opening fixture against Chile in Sapporo takes place on 21 July. Hege Riise’s side then face Japan at the same venue on 24 July before ending the group stage with a game against Canada in Kashima on 27 July.