Photo Credit: OFC Media

Solomon Islands women’s team forward Ileen Pegi is torn between who to support in the second FIFA Women’s Football World Cup™ semi-final between Australia and England in Sydney on Wednesday.

The Koloale FC captain has been roaring on the Matilda’s at the tournament, but also has a connection to the Lionesses, as the two meet at Stadium Australia for the right to advance to the World Cup Final.

Pegi and defender Lisa Solo spent a week in camp with the England team in Sydney leading into their Group D match against Denmark on July 28.

The pair got close up and personal with the England players, a trip made possible through the British High Commission in the Solomon Islands.

Pegi describes the experience as “amazing”.

Photo: Ileen Pegi poses with England star Lauren James at training (left) and with England captain Millie Bright (right)

“Being there and meeting the players first hand was so exciting. We learned so many things but what stands out is the way they train and the intensity they bring to training. They work so hard,” Pegi said.

Pegi and Solo were in Sydney as observers and Pegi admitted watching England train had her chomping at the bit to lace up her boots.

“We were observing from the side lines and watching their training. Yes. I wish I was involved with them. By standing there and watching them it was a different feeling too but I was just so happy and privileged to be there,” she added.

Pegi says the England players were very welcoming and happy to answer any questions she and Solo had.

“Millie Bright the captain was just so loving and humble and a down to earth person. It’s nice to hear encouraging words and she wanted to know a lot about us and the Solomon Islands. She was so happy to see us there and she encouraged us to follow our dreams.”

Pegi felt despite the obvious advantages a team like England has over the Solomon Islands in terms of resources – “ I still believe we can be like them,” she said.

She has returned to Honiara beaming about the possibilities for women’s football in her country, and is sharing the knowledge she garnered from the week watching England at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“Oh, the professionalism is really important during training on and off the pitch, you have to have self-discipline and focus when you come to training. Everything starts at the training ground and outside too.

So it’s a lot, and I am sharing with the girls how professional they (England) are and how they train, and how they work hard,” she said.