Card games, a DJ, basketball hoop competitions, Love Island watch-alongs, Around the World darts and a bit of ABBA – it’s not all about football at England’s Euro 2022 camp.
Sarina Wiegman’s side are in the quarter-finals with one game to go after winning their group – but they have a lot to do when they switch off from football.
England have a base camp at the Lensbury Resort in Teddington, south west London, where they eat, sleep, train and relax.
They feature meeting rooms, recreation centers, training grounds, a game room, a Big Brother-style “diary room” and media areas, all of which can be used between games.
“After training, we rest, have lunch and then enjoy each other’s company. We play cards, sit in the sun and drink coffee. The facility here is great,” Manchester United striker Alessia Russo told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“There is a group of us who play cards. It’s a nice way to unwind and we’re playing a game called Trump that’s getting really competitive. Tooney [Ella Toone] won the last game we played…”
Toone may have the crown in his cards, but Manchester City winger Lauren Hemp is the queen of the dartboard.
“I’ve been practicing darts because ‘Hempo’ flies away winning every time!” said teammate Chloe Kelly.
“We played ‘around the world’ and it will be finished while I’m still at 12. I have work to do…”
The game room was very competitive. Before press conferences, the players compete against media representatives in a basketball hoop challenge.
Ellen White was first and gave her team a very strong lead. Afterwards, Fran Kirby told the media that White had been training and was the strongest player on the team.
Toone next stopped by to support Kelly – shouting out instructions and words of encouragement as she drew with the media.
Away from the competition, however, the players received messages of support from friends and family, and midfielder Jill Scott’s mother posted a poem on social media.
The staff also encourage players to use a space they call the “diary room” where they can engage in anything they want to talk about.
Chelsea defender Jess Carter is among those using it, while Aston Villa goalkeeper Hannah Hampton was happy to take walks in the area – although the squad must remain wary of Covid.
“That’s something they’re really open about. They don’t want us stuck inside because we’re gone 10 weeks max,” Hampton said.
“It was nice, we took little walks to cafes which was really refreshing.”
Kelly added: “You see people on the street and they send their support across the street. It’s beautiful, really touching and it’s nice to see English fans.”
The team also loves to party.
Captain Leah Williamson is the resident DJ and spins songs on the bus back from the games, while defender Rachel Daly “gave a performance” in the dressing room after the 8-0 win against Norway.
“It was so good I can’t remember what the song was! she [Daly] went all out,” Russo said.
“We had the speaker all the way home and Leah played some good songs. My request was ‘Listen’ from Beyonce.
“She has some really good throwback songs and we love to sing along. She puts one on and everyone’s like, ‘Ah, we haven’t heard that in years!’”
Celebrations following England’s victory over Norway were clearly gratifying, but midfielder Georgia Stanway missed the trip home with the players and had to make the journey with staff.
However, she was able to indulge in a little ABBA in the dressing room beforehand – something that has become a regular part of the post-game celebrations.
“I think that’s Tooney! She always has ABBA on request. I think she knows all the words,” Kelly said.
Players naturally also crave time to relax, and there’s a large crowd that gathers most nights to watch the Love Island TV show.
They’re also watching other games at Euro 2022 – although Kelly admitted she likes going early at night.
“I’ll watch the first half, but I’m always done! Put me to bed and let me sleep,” she added.
And could Stanway pursue her hobby, fishing, in London?
“She probably has a tent somewhere…” Kelly said.