ITVs Laura Woods on 4am starts for the Womens World Cup and why the final will be bittersweet

With the Women’s World Cup final in Sydney upon us there’s probably no one more thrilled about it than TV sports presenter Laura Woods, who has been spearheading ITV’s coverage of the tournament.

“It’s all been so fun,” the 36-year-old says. "There have been so many different storylines that have really surprised us, and it’s been very difficult to predict. A lot of the favourites that we were eyeing up and thinking, ‘They’re going to do well,’ haven’t done quite as well as we thought.”

The time difference with Australia has meant Laura and her team – former England players Eni Aluko and Karen Carney – are often in the studio at 4am to prepare for a match with a 9am kick-off. But the hours haven’t dampened her spirit – in fact, she’s more hyped up than ever.

“Yesterday, me, Eni and Karen were just so shattered, then we went on air and in the first break, Eni said, ‘Are you alright?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m having a great time!’ and she was like, ‘You’re so excited!’ I think we all feed off one another’s energy to get through the early starts.”

After an exciting month of football shenanigans, Laura says the final will be “bittersweet” for her.

“That’s the great thing with tournament football, you’re so invested in it from start to finish. You know all of the storylines that are intertwining with each other in the different nations,” she adds. “I can’t wait to see it through. We’re at the final, it’s brilliant, it’s the crescendo, but then it’s over. And you always have this little lull after tournament football when you’re like, ‘What do we do now?’”

With some of the major teams out of the tournament earlier than expected, Laura has enjoyed watching some of the nations going farther in competitions than they ever have before.

“I was very impressed with Haiti. Within these nations that we are calling underdogs, you have these incredible gems,” she says.

Of course, Laura can’t resist rooting for a few teams. “I so wanted Ireland to go through. I think they’re fabulous. I thought a lot of their performances warranted more than they actually got, so I was disappointed they went out.

“I do pick favourites,” she admits. “I just get affected by stories of certain nations or individuals. I want them to do well – unless they’re up against England!

“Japan have been amazing and I think they are everyone’s second favourite,” she adds.

One of the player stories that drew Laura in is that of Linda Caicedo, Colombia’s star player. “She had ovarian cancer a few years ago and she came through that,” Laura says. “She also fainted in training, so a lot of people were worried about her. She is unbelievable and she’s 18 years old.”

Laura began her own career in 2009 as a runner at Sky Sports after leaving university. She admits she’s had the occasional embarrassing moment during her TV career, from dropping coffee on guests to microphone mishaps.

“[Former Wolves manager] Nuno Espirito Santo came up for an interview when I was in the stands at Old Trafford. Every microphone he picked up didn’t work but we were live, so we ended up sharing my mic, which was attached to my headphone!

“I would sort of push it out for him to speak and push it back in for me to speak. There’s a picture of it, it’s so funny. I was very nervous about it, but he was brilliant.”

With the competition nearly over, has spending so much time on the goal line ever inspired her to get out on the pitch for a kickabout herself?

“I will 100% leave it to the professionals. I can speak about it, I cannot do it. That’s why I’m on this side of the line.”

The FIFA Women's World Cup Final 2023 airs on Sunday 20th August at 10:30am on ITV1.

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