Skip to main content
Published 20 July 2023 6 min read
England Women's Senior Team

Anja van Ginhoven: 'Lets get this started'

Written by:

Amy Hart

Find out more about the logistical side of organising England's World Cup trip to Australia from the Lionesses' general manager


England will begin their FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 campaign against Haiti in Brisbane on Saturday 22 July, where they will be hoping to show the world their very best.

Ahead of their opening game, we caught up with the team’s general manager, Anja van Ginhoven, who gave us an update on the team’s final preparations from their first base camp on the Sunshine Coast.

When did preparations for the tournament start?

The first time we spoke with FIFA regarding this tournament was somewhere at the end of 2021, early 2022. The first thing you usually do once you know the match schedule is start to analyse, ‘okay, if we get drawn in that group what are our potential routes?’ because that basically defines where you could be based.

And based on that first analysis, we touched base with FIFA and asked if we could get a first selection of potential basecamps based on our main criteria, so they gave us a list of potential base camps which could be of interest for us. Myself and Kay Cossington did a first site visit in May 2022 – I think we visited about 37 hotels and 23 training grounds in nine days! It was a super intense trip but also an incredible project to work on, and it got us ahead of the game so much.

In the end, FIFA decides who goes into which base camp, but after the draw we immediately knew what our preference for basecamps would be because we’d done all our homework before. And that gives a lot of confidence further down the line.

How was the journey over to Australia? How did the players and wider team acclimatise to the time difference?

The travel to get here was really smooth. It was literally on the minute and comfortable as we flew business class and had one part of the plane to ourselves. Therefore we could, for example, control the lighting and the meal times ourselves which was helpful as we’d already started shifting into Australian time a few days before departure – going to bed earlier and waking up earlier.

We got help with it from a chrono coach, who specialises in helping athletes to get over the time difference quicker. We used certain sunglasses with blue light which keep you awake, and then orange glasses which help your body make melatonin to send you to sleep. And of course our environment at Sunshine Coast was deliberately chosen because there’s plenty of outdoor opportunities, so that helps your body to acclimatise and get over the jet lag as soon as possible.
Anja has been general manager of the England Women's team since 2021, having previously played and worked with Sarina Wiegman in the Netherlands
Anja has been general manager of the England Women's team since 2021, having previously played and worked with Sarina Wiegman in the Netherlands

Our first base camp was on the Sunshine Coast – what were the reasons we chose this location and venue?

It always starts with a really good pitch, and we are super spoilt with the St. George’s Park pitch so it’s not always easy. But of course the pitch is always number one. We also need a good environment to work and to live, and the hotel had a bit of a village set up. It’s really spread out and that also nudges you to go outside and get the daylight in to help with getting over the jet lag. It also allowed the players to enjoy their downtime in a typical Australian lifestyle when they have it, so they can jump on a bike and go for a coffee at a local coffee shop or go for a beach walk, so that’s been really appreciated and needed to keep them fresh and fit for the tournament.

How have the Lionesses settled into life in Australia? What have some of the highlights been so far?

We had an open training session at Sunshine Coast on our second day and that was absolutely incredible. There were about 3,000 people watching, and it was amazing to see that the locals think it’s really special to come and watch the Lionesses.

Part of that open training session was a welcoming ceremony by the Gubbi Gubbi people, who are the traditional landowners there and who did a special smoking ceremony for us. They do that to say ‘welcome’ but also to wish you well, and it was just so special to experience. Aside from that we’re there first and foremost to do a job, but whether you’re staff or players, these are experiences for life.

And I think the content on our own channels and the media coverage so far reflect the atmosphere in camp really well. And that is a big compliment to both the communications team and the content team to make sure that messaging is coming across so well.
14 Jul 2023 10:59

A Sunshine Coast welcome

Behind the scenes as the England squad settle into their first base in Australia ahead of the World Cup

How will the players spend the next final days ahead of the tournament starting?

On Monday we travelled to Brisbane, which is where we play our first game. We’re now in a FIFA team transfer hotel and that’s when mentally go into the next phase because you go into the FIFA environment – and that’s heads down and the last couple of days working towards the first game.

Our Lionesses seem to have a great team togetherness – how important is this and how has that been nurtured over the past weeks and months?

I think that’s a really ongoing process where our head of psychology, Kate Hays, plays a major role. Almost every international window we will work on things like team development, relationships, and how can we stay connected both as staff and players. So all those little pieces of the jigsaw contribute to what I hope people see from the outside. And that’s a team that is connected, and people can be themselves and with respect and understanding for each other.


Anja and Sarina Wiegman meeting HRH The Prince of Wales ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023
Anja and Sarina Wiegman meeting HRH The Prince of Wales ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023