An Olympic sport, it will be contested in this summer’s Tokyo Games, as (for the second time) will women’s football.
City will have at least 11 representatives at the tournament with Team Great Britain’s squad already announced.
Aged just 22, Georgia Stanway is one of the names selected to represent her nation; one of those chosen to become an Olympian.
Fearless, tenacious and talented, Stanway is best known for her prolific goalscoring exploits. Racking up 37 appearances in all competitions, she played in all bar one of City’s games in 2020/21, netting 11 goals.
While her attacking return may not be reflective of previous campaigns, Stanway’s last few seasons have seen the forward impress in other areas of the pitch, employed in a variety of positions – even left-back.
Her versatility and willingness to step up to the plate has earned widespread praise amongst the squad, as she has gained valuable experience.
Demonstrating her commitment to the cause, she has also expanded her armoury by experiencing a different side to the beautiful game – and a new mindset.
But how does the Barrow-born star view her transition from a ‘glory’ player to an ‘unsung hero’?
For Stanway, while the change has brought its challenges, the 22-year-old believes the experience has aided her development even further, adding new strings to her bow with skills an archer would be proud of.
“It’s been good,” she reflected. “It’s been a little up and down but personally, I just want to be playing so wherever I’m needed on the pitch, I’ll do my job.
“I’ve played at left-back, right-back, in the back of a three… It’s been a good experience and I hope people have enjoyed me being in that position.
“People know what they’ll get from me: I’m hard-working and I’ll put a tackle in, and I like to pass the ball. Those are attributes that go in any position.
“I’m quite fortunate to be able to do that and to be able to play anywhere. I’ve seen people say I’m the ‘unsung hero’ and that’s honestly really heart-warming.
“It’s really good to hear – it’s a really nice compliment and it’s something that’s only ever said in interviews.
“I just slot in and do a job. I just go about my daily business and if people think that, then that’s great but I just want to put everything I’ve got on the plate for the team, and I want to win.
“For me, it’s been about getting a different perspective. I got a flavour of right-back in the 2019/20 season and then last season, I started seeing the different perspectives.
“You don’t realise the pressures that are on you – the people up top to score and those at the back not to make a mistake. If I make a mistake in defence, the other team are in on goal and when we miss a chance after everything has gone perfectly in the build-up, you wish you can be up there helping in that final action.
“It was a different mindset for me to have and it has been frustrating at times but I have enjoyed it.”
Though successful in Stanway’s experience, adaptability is not a trait every person has.
It’s a trait she is particularly proud of, gained – she believes – from her upbringing and early exposure to the tactical side of the game.
“I’m quite fortunate in the way I’ve been brought up,” she explained. “I’ve got a bit of a footballing mindset and tactically, I understand the game well – I’m able to read situations.
“That’s definitely worked in my favour when changing positions, even when it’s mid-game. I could go from left-back into the nine and am able to adapt.
“I think the upbringing I had and the coaches I’ve worked with previously have allowed me to do that.
“It’s exciting to be part of and it shows everybody can play in any position within this squad and would still do a job.
“Although people potentially class me as a midfielder, if you look at the men’s side, they’re putting a midfielder out wide so they can jump in the midfield and that’s been my role too – I’ve been jumping in and supporting Keira Walsh and Caz Weir in those areas.
“Hopefully, I’ve done a job. I’ve tried to create things from the back, going forward.
“In the long run, I want to knuckle down and be able to fight for one place consistently instead of fighting for potentially eight different places.
“I want to play in that one place and get better in that position – wherever it may be – but at the moment, I’m just enjoying the experience and I believe it will put me in good stead going into a major tournament and the future.”