Former England international Rachel Yankey is hoping Brighton & Hove Albion supporters will turn out in force for the FA Women’s Super League match against Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.
Yankey, who won 129 caps for her country, encouraged Seagulls supporters to create a good atmosphere for Hope Powell’s side and assessed Albion’s season so far.
She said, “They are playing at the home of Brighton & Hove Albion and the Brighton fans need to come out and support the team. It really does make a difference, even if it is just a one-off game at the home stadium of the club. If you can get a really big crowd there, then it will be a great atmosphere.
“The team look good and strong. I don’t know too much about them, but it is their first season and you just need to make sure that you stay in the league, and get a taste for it. Then you can work out your team and figure out who is ready for the challenge of the next season. The first season is always about making sure that you can compete and they have obviously done that well.”
Yankey was speaking at the World Cup trophy tour, which visited the Royal Pavilion in Brighton on Tuesday and was attended by girls from a local school, Balfour Primary.
The pupils undertook a Wildcats training session on the lawns before the event, and the former midfielder is delighted that young children now have a chance to pursue a career in the game.
"Hopefully these kids that are having a kick around and learning some skills can be the future players through, and be inspired by seeing the trophy.
“There are so many things that can inspire you, but I don’t think that this is something that they will forget.
"I’m sure they will go back to school and tell their friends what this day has been like. They have played football in front of the World Cup trophy, then had the opportunity to see the Lionesses in action at the Amex on the 1st June; it’s fantastic all round for them.
“I grew up thinking that I was the only girl who played football, I didn’t really know of any other girls who played, so I never thought that I could make a career form it.
“Now, to see the potential of where the level has got to, and to see the young kids coming through knowing they have a pathway to make a career out of it, is fantastic. We all need to keep pushing on to make it better, and keep driving to expect more.”
The former Arsenal player, who represented Sunday's opponents between 1996 to 2000 and 2005 to 2016, also gave her opinion on her former club and how she expects the Seagulls to put up a fight to stop Arsenal winning the league title at the Amex.
“I know there is a lot riding on the match for Arsenal, and it is fantastic that they are challenging again. In my opinion, they are the greatest team in women’s football history in this country, so they need to be back fighting for titles and also play in the Champions League. It should be an exciting game because Brighton won’t let them have an easy game.”