Football: Kellie Larkin on Representing England
Kellie in her Number 3 shirt alongside her England teammates during April's U17 tour to Madrid.
Bede's Girls' Football scholar and new Lower Sixth student for 2013-14 Kellie Larkin writes about her experiences representing England internationally throughout 2013, and about her hopes for the imminent Euro Qualifiers for the U17 World Cup.
I first started playing Football seriously around the aged of 10. Before that, since I was about 5, I was always playing with my brothers, because there wasn't a girls' side at Pevensey and West Ham.
When I was 10 I was scouted for Brighton, which is a Centre of Excellence. Brighton laid out the stepping stones for me to train and develop, and I have been playing for them for 6 years now. I play Centre-Mid for Brighton but, very excitingly, I also now play for the England U17s at Centre-Half.
My first real Tournament experience with England was when I joined the tour to Madrid in April. I played in matches against France, Spain and Turkey, and was so scared! The atmosphere was surreal. My starting number was 3, and wearing that England shirt was… well, it was just amazing!
Following that there was a series of intensive Training Camps which led up to another Tournament in July - this time in Iceland. The environment was so strange, as there was only 3 hours of darkness a day! We played Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, and really had to adapt our play to compete. I developed a lot as a player as a result, and the whole experience was incredible.
It has been a lot of work, getting this far. I remember so clearly starting training with England two years ago, joining players from Chelsea, Arsenal, Millwall and so on, but I only started taking part in match play at the beginning of the year.
My main aim looking forwards is the U17 Euro Qualifiers for the World Cup, which will be taking place at St George's Park in November. They don't give anything away about selection in advance, but to even be on standby would be unbelievable.
To maximise my chances of success, I have had to train so much more intensely. The step up required, in terms of my daily commitments, meant I had to change the whole way I was living. Earning a Football Scholarship to Bede's has helped so, so much with that.
I had been at a state school for my whole life until I started in the Bede's Sixth Form in August, and when I first came for a tour here I found it so massive and intimidating. Now I'm here though, I'm so happy. All I have ever really wanted to do is play for England, and that means I have to fill out log books detailing all the things I'm doing, and the opportunities to do that sort of thing here, from Strength and Conditioning plans to the Co-Curricular sessions three days a week, are fantastic.
Fitting work around everything else is quite stressful, but my teachers are preparing for me to be absent and to help me catch up. And this place is so different to my old school. The people are super-friendly and the girls in Bloomsbury House are lovely! They were very welcoming from day one, which is great, because between England, Bede's Football and Brighton I don't have a huge amount of time to socialise.
That said, looking at my calendar for the next few months in a positive way, I'm definitely not going to be bored!