FA Girls’ Football Week: “Football brings out the best in me” – Shania, Solihull College

AoC Sport is delighted to be supporting another FA Girls’ Football Week, taking place between Monday 6 and Sunday 12 November 2017.

The FA Girls’ Football Week is a great opportunity to get women and girls playing football at your college.

The national campaign will help The FA achieve its aim to double participation by 2020. Whether it be playing, training or simply learning about the beautiful game we want as many girls as possible taking part and having fun.

As part of FA Girls’ Football Week, we spoke to Solihull College student and Birmingham City player, Shania.

My football journey started when I was five years old: I attended a soccer camp in Burton-on-Trent with my friend in one of the half-term breaks. When I got there it started raining and I was so cold that I decided football wasn’t for me!

A couple of weeks later however I decided to go back and give it another go, and from that day I’ve loved every minute of it! After the soccer camp, I was made aware of a boys team called Belverdere Football Club, and I ended up playing with them till I was eight. At that age, I successfully trialled with Stretton Swifts, a girls’ team, and played for them for several years.

When I had just turned 15, I joined Aston Villa Ladies and played for them for two seasons as part of their Centre of Excellence team. I then joined Birmingham City Ladies at 16. This season will be my third season at Birmingham. I’m currently playing in the reserves squad, but I also train and have played in some games for the first team. Now, I have a first team squad number and made my debut against Oxford United in the Continental Cup a few weeks ago. I have come a long way and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Managing college and football is quite tricky as one of the hardest things is that I have to travel over an hour to college every day. Sometimes it’s hard to catch up on the work I may have missed because of football, but my college are really supportive. I’m allowed to leave college sometimes in order to train with the first team and my deadlines can be extended if needed. They always show their support when I’m doing well in my football. I’d say that as long as I stay up to date with my work then it isn’t too difficult to manage! Our coach makes it very clear to us that education is just as important as football, so we need to work hard at both as you never know when football will come to an end.

What motivates me? My family motivate me, as they are the ones who I want to make proud every day. This helps me to strive to be the best that I can be and achieve my long term goals. I’m especially referring to my mum, as I want to achieve my goals in order to make her proud due to all of the help she has provided along my journey. The reason why I get up everyday to play football is because I love playing the sport, and I feel myself when I play it. It brings out the best in me.

My advice to girls wanting to get involved in football would be to make sure you work hard on and off the pitch; get the best out of every opportunity you get; practice new and different skills (even if they’re what you’re good at, practice as you will only get better at them.) Also, make sure you enjoy playing, because when you enjoy something it brings the best out of you and helps you express yourself on the pitch. Lastly, be yourself and believe in your ability, because if you want something badly, you will achieve your goal.

My top tips for Girls’ Football Week: Be yourself, train hard, work hard, believe in yourself, be a team player and practice, practice, practice.