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  • Millie Bright was named in the FIFA FIFPro World11 2020
  • The Chelsea and England stalwart speaks about her place among the elite
  • Bright also reflects on World Cup regrets and Olympic dreams

Straightforward and self-assured, Millie Bright speaks the same way she plays. That unfussy honesty has also marked her steady, sustained rise to become one of the world’s leading players.

Bright’s status among the elite was further cemented last month when the England and Chelsea defender was named in the FIFA FIFPro Women’s World11. That honour, bestowed following a poll among players across the world, reflects the esteem in which she is held by colleagues and rivals alike.

The 27-year-old could not, however, be described as having been destined for such heights. She wasn’t an avid follower of football as a child, didn’t play the game until the age of nine, and was still holding down two day jobs in her early 20s as she took her first, tentative steps in the senior game with Doncaster Belles.

Leaving home to join Chelsea in 2015 was the key landmark in her subsequent journey to the top, with Emma Hayes having spotted something special in a defender she has long said “can become the very best”. It says everything for Bright’s development, and the Blues coach’s influence on her, that living up to that prediction has become a clear, unabashed target.

In this interview, the Lionesses centre-half speaks about those ambitions and her sources of inspiration, while reflecting on a bittersweet FIFA Women’s World Cup™ and looking ahead to this year’s Olympics. Firstly Millie, congratulations on being named in the FIFA FIFPro World11. How did that feel?
Millie Bright: It was a bit of a shock to be in the final 11 but I was super proud, and being nominated is something I definitely work towards. These days, whatever tournament or match I’m playing in, I really do try to make sure that I’m a standout. It’s something I’ve become more conscious of as I’ve developed as a player. I’ve made the FIFPro shortlist for the past few years now and it’s special to me because you know that these votes are coming from your fellow players. That kind of recognition, from people you’ve come up against, is as good as it gets.

Your standing in the game has been rising steadily over recent years. Is that something you’ve been conscious of, and anxious to maintain?
One hundred per cent. I compare myself to the best and over the past few years I’ve been looking at someone like Wendie Renard, asking myself what she does to make sure she’s always so successful – and always in that top 11. For me, it’s because she’s always so consistent in everything she does and not just content to stay at the top – she’s always looking to improve and make herself even better. She’s a tremendous leader and so often in big games she makes the difference, whether that’s with a big goal from a set piece or just by driving her team on to continuously win. That’s something I’ve tried to add to my game; just trying to stand out and be one of the players who really pushes the team on, both with Chelsea and England. I’ve tried to improve defensively and also add something to my game in the way I play going forward, both in terms of possession and in bringing more goals. And I do feel I’m getting better in that respect. Above all I want to win trophies, and Wendie Renard is always winning. That’s why she’s been a good example for me to look to.

For all Renard’s attributes and achievements, she missed out in The Best FIFA Women’s Player to another player you know very well. What can you tell us about Lucy Bronze?
Lucy earned that award because she’s someone who’s grafted every single day of her career. As she said herself in her speech, she also has a real competitive edge and will to win in everything she does. I think that determination to stand out and become the best has been an important element in her rising to the level she’s reached. If there’s anyone who provides an example of how to go about continually improving and achieving your goals, it’s Lucy Bronze. She’s definitely been an inspiration to me and I was absolutely delighted for her because she truly deserves it.

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With two defenders in the final three, and one of those taking home the trophy, does it spark any dreams in you of winning that particular award one day?
It’s there in the back of my mind, but it’s about the process for me. I just want to keep improving every day and become the best player I can be. If eventually I’m ticking all boxes, there’s no reason why I can’t be up there challenging for it. Lucy winning this year shows that it’s possible for defenders. But I won’t get caught up focusing on it.

Finally on The Best, Emma Hayes just missed out on the coaching award. But how important has she been to you, and what can you say about her?
Em’s probably the reason I’ve pushed on so much over the past few years. She’s a tremendous coach and a great person. She knows how to get the best out of players. When you look at the journey we’ve been on at Chelsea over the past few years, and the successes we’ve had, Em’s driven all of that. She’s a born winner herself and she’s not afraid to make changes if they’re going to knock down barriers in our way. That determination she has to be the best has really rubbed off on me and pushed me on to believe in myself and never give in. She’s the best manager I’ve played under and I’m really excited to see where she can take this team.

Given your respect for Emma, and the ambition Chelsea have shown, was the decision to extend your contract recently an easy one?
Definitely. There were no doubts in my mind. I’ve achieved so much since being here but I know that there’s still so much to come, both from me personally and from this club. I also know that, under Emma, there will always be a drive to be better no matter what we achieve. It’s all about being humble here. The same expectations and demands are placed on everyone, and it’s all geared towards becoming the best.

Are you surprised yourself at the levels you’re reaching in the game now, given you didn’t play football – and weren’t even a big football fan – as a young kid?
It is crazy to think about the journey I’ve been on. I didn’t really play football until I was nine, and it’s not all that long ago I was playing part-time and nowhere near the level I’m at now. I always like to think about where I came from and what it’s taken to get here, and I feel the experiences I had when I was younger have helped mould me into the player I am now. Things have changed a lot for the better too. It really wasn’t clear to me when I started out that I could make a career out of football, whereas girls can now see that anything is possible if you have the talent and work hard enough. Each generation of women’s players has a responsibility to keep on growing the game and making things easier for the generation that follows, and I think we’re doing a good job of that right now.

One of the things that’s helping drive that growth is social media clips showcasing the quality in women’s football, and your wonder goal in the Community Shield has been one of those viral moments. Can you tell us about it?
I don’t think it gets much better than scoring a goal like that in a stadium like Wembley. The only thing that would have topped it is if there were fans there to see it. But it still felt electric. The girls are often telling me to have a go from distance; JiJi (Ji Soyun) always says, ‘When I pass to you, take one touch and shoot!’ It’s just a case of being confident enough to do it. I want to show that shot wasn’t a one-off, and it would be good if it was something I became known for. That said, I think I’ll do well to score a better goal than that one!

Turning to the 2019 Women’s World Cup, how do you reflect on that now? Bittersweet, given the way it ended (with a red card against USA in England’s semi-final defeat) and the fact you’d played so well until then?
I’d say bittersweet is right. At first the main emotion was definitely disappointment, feeling angry with myself. But after some long, hard reflection, I was able to feel proud too for the journey I’d been on through that tournament. It (the red card) happened, I make no excuses, but it’s football, these things do happen, and many other players have been in the same situation. If I could go back, I’d change things of course – just in terms of containing my emotions and my decision-making, because I didn’t need to go into that tackle. But I was proud of the team, proud to be part of my first World Cup and all of the successes that came with that. Again, I’ve appreciated that more over time. At first I was really upset and didn’t feel we’d succeeded or really progressed. But looking at the bigger picture, and with a bit of time to reflect, I can see that we did.

The Olympics is obviously the next big international event on the horizon. How excited are you by the prospect of being part of a Great Britain team in Tokyo?
It would be massive. Speaking to the girls who were involved in 2012, they always say what a unique, incredible experience it was, with all the different sports and athletes coming together. That’s probably the thing I’m most excited about, and I’m working really hard at the minute to make sure I put myself in the best possible position to be selected. I’ve always enjoyed watching the Olympics as a fan. No matter what sport you watch, there’s the feeling of, ‘Oh my God, this is the Olympics’. There’s a special vibe and excitement to it, I think – seeing all these amazing athletes who’ve trained for years to reach that point. I’d love to be a part of it.

England celebrate after Lucy Bronze of England scores her teams third goal during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Quarter Final match between Norway and England at Stade Oceane on June 27, 2019 in Le Havre, France.

© Getty Images

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Olympic Football Tournaments 2020 – Men – News – Ripoll: France’s youngsters are gifted, dependable and committed


Men’s Olympic Football Tournament

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  • Men’s Olympic Football Tournament kicks off in exactly six months
  • We talk to Sylvain Ripoll, coach of France’s Espoirs (U-21) team
  • “I’m part of a generation that dreamed of going to the Olympics”

This Friday 22 January marks six months to the day before the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament kicks off in Tokyo. The tournament will see France back on the Olympic stage 25 years after reaching the quarter-finals at the Atlanta Games in 1996.

So what has caused such a prolonged absence from the Olympics? “I can’t give you an exact answer, since I wasn’t there,” says Sylvain Ripoll, coach of the France Espoirs (U-21) team since 2017. “Qualification for such a prestigious competition is always on a national federation’s wish-list, but for some reason we’ve been unsuccessful in recent times. In any case, we’re delighted to be back with the French team in a major tournament like the Olympics,” said the 49-year-old strategist.

“I’m part of a generation that dreamed of the Olympics – just talking about it always makes our eyes light up,” says the man who was not yet 13 when Les Bleus won gold at Los Angeles 1984. “And I think it’s the same with my players,” he adds. “It generates so many memories and great moments that just being part of it is bound to be an honour.”

The France football team pictured wearing their gold medals

© Getty Images

For now, though, it is still too early to be focusing on Tokyo, with tournaments looming before then both for the U-21s and senior team. “We have the EURO (11 June-11 July) taking place shortly before the Olympic Tournament (22 July-7 August), so one event will influence the other. Before that, there’s the European U-21 Championship, which we’ve qualified for, starting in March in Hungary and ending in June. So, the best thing we can do is to deal with those in the order they come.”

There is no point then in Ripoll looking too far ahead or contemplating which three players over the age of 23 he might include in his squad for Japan, as permitted under the rules of men’s tournament. “Logically, the priority will always be the France senior team,” says the Rennes native, who was nevertheless amenable to remarks last year by Kylian Mbappe, who expressed his desire to take part in the Tokyo Olympics. “We can only rejoice that we have a player in France of the calibre of Mbappe who thinks this way.”

An insatiable talent scout, Ripoll carefully monitors a good 60 players, including 20 who play abroad. He works closely with France’s World Cup-winning coach Didier Deschamps, who is always looking for new blood to energise his squad. “Didier and I talk a lot about the Espoirs’ potential to establish themselves into the senior team. You need to be performing regularly at the highest level for some time to break into the senior side, whereas with the Espoirs, that process can happen much more quickly,” he explains.

France coach Sylvain Ripoll looks on Serravalle 21-06-2019 Stadio San Marino Stadium Football UEFA Under 21 Championship Italy 2019 Group Stage - Final Tournament Group C France - Croatia.

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“Didier and his staff keep a very close eye on the Espoirs and watch a lot of their matches. We talk a lot about the players’ mentality, commitment and potential,” adds Ripoll, who takes immense pride in seeing one of his young players called up. He also regularly talks with the selectors of the younger age-category teams to try to progress the most promising talents through the ranks.

If we add to the mix the exemption that allows the inclusion of the 1997 generation that was eligible for the postponed Olympics last summer, then there will be a particularly large group to choose from when deciding on the final squad for Tokyo.

For all that, Ripoll already has grounds to be satisfied with his current crop. “This is the second generation I’ve been in charge of since I arrived four years ago. Apart from being gifted, which has been the case for many years in France, given our enormous reservoir of talent, I find them to be very dependable and committed. For now, I feel my players are very focused on their goals, and I hope that remains the case,” says the coach, whose aim is not to assemble only a squad of big names for Tokyo.

“There are a lot of criteria that come into play when you put together a squad for a tournament like this. There are performances, of course, but the priority is to have the best possible squad, which doesn’t always mean you only take the best players. We have to assess how squad members complement each other and perform together.”

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Boxing schedule for 2021: Canelo Alvarez vs. Avni Yildirim, Angelo Leo vs. Stephen Fulton on tap


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After a tumultuous 2020 that saw many major fights canceled or postponed, boxing is ready to head into 2021. As many champions and pound-for-pound elites hung on the sidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic, boxing missed out on some big-time fights. However, as the year went out, fighters slowly started to trickle back into the ring, albeit not against the competition we would like to see.

But with guys like Anthony Joshua, Terence Crawford, Errol Spence, Canelo Alvarez and GGG all getting in some tune-up fights, things are looking bright for 2021. And things got rolling with a strong start from Ryan Garcia, who rallied from an early knockdown to stop Luke Campbell and claim the interim WBC lightweight title. Garcia, along with Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Teofimo Lopez and Devin Haney are setting up the prospects of some tasty matchups over the next 12 months in the 135-pound division.

Now as we head into the early part of the year, there’s a plethora of big fights on the books already. IBF super middleweight champion Caleb Plant is set to take on Caleb Truax at the close of January in his first action in nearly a year. Plus, Canelo Alvarez will make his return to the ring rather quickly when he takes on mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Alvarez is hoping to fight three times this year and could be on a path to facing Plant down the road now that he’s a promotional free agent.

Below is a running list of boxing main events for the 2021 year.

Note: This will be updated constantly with changes and additions.

Jan. 23Uncasville, ConnecticutAngelo Leo (c) vs. Stephen FultonWBO junior featherweight titleShowtime
Jan. 30Los AngelesCaleb Plant (c) vs. Caleb TruaxIBF super middleweight titleFOX
Feb. 13Indio, CaliforniaJoseph Diaz (c) vs. Shavkatdzhon RakhimovIBF junior lightweight titleDAZN
Feb. 20TBAAdrien Broner vs. TBAJunior welterweightsTBA
Feb. 20Las VegasMiguel Berchelt (c) vs. Oscar ValdezWBC junior lightweight titleESPN
Feb. 27Miami Gardens, FloridaCanelo Alvarez (c) vs. Avni YildirimWBC super middleweight titleDAZN
Feb. 27LondonJamel Herring (c) vs. Carl FramptonWBO junior lightweight titleESPN+
March 5TBAClaressa Shields (c) vs. Marie-Eve Dicaire (c)Super welterweight unificationPPV
March 6TBAAlexander Povetkin (c) vs. Dillian WhyteWBC “interim” heavyweight titleDAZN
March 13TBAJuan Francisco Estrada vs. ‘Chocolatito’ GonzalezSuper flyweight unificationDAZN
March 20MoscowArtur Beterbiev (c) vs. Adam DeinesWBC, IBF light heavyweight titlesESPN

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Recent Match Report – West Indies vs Bangladesh 2nd ODI 2020-2022/23



Kjorn Ottley came in place of Chemar Holder

West Indies chose to bat vs Bangladesh

After being outplayed in the opening game, West Indies captain Jason Mohammed opted to bat in the second ODI in a bid to keep the series alive.

While Jason expected his batsmen to put up a good total, Bangladesh captain Tamim Iqbal said he anyway wanted to bowl first because “you never know with this wicket”.

West Indies had fielded six debutants in the first ODI. On Friday, they handed another debut, to left-hand top-order batsman Kjorn Ottley who came in place of Chemar Holder. That was the only change they made. Bangladesh, meanwhile, went with an unchanged XI.

The match is being played on the same pitch as the first ODI. So spinners are once again expected to get good purchase. There is no forecast of rain.

Bangladesh 1 Tamim Iqbal (capt), 2 Liton Das, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Shakib Al Hasan, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Soumya Sarkar, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Rubel Hossain, 10 Hasan Mahmud, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

West Indies 1 Sunil Ambris, 2 Kjorn Ottley, 3 Joshua Da Silva (wk), 4 Andre McCarthy, 5 Nkrumah Bonner, 6 Jason Mohammed (capt), 7 Rovman Powell, 8 Kyle Mayers, 9 Raymon Reifer, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Akeal Hosein

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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