On Sunday we will witness the England Lionesses take on the mighty x8 winning Germans at Wembley in the Euro 2022 Final.
The Lionesses continue to inspire and new generation of players and are helping open up more doors to Girls & Women playing the sport. One of them doors opening is the new “England Talent Pathway” headed by Lioness Jill Scott.
They have run trials nationally all last season to discover players they believe are potentially future England Lionesses. They selected from thousands and thousands just around 60 players who they believe have that “X Factor”.
Whitehavens very own Chelsea Callander was one of those players, who is part of our Whitehaven AFC U15 Lionesses and has been since u8s, whilst also training and playing for the superb Academy set up at Sunderland AFC.
This week ahead of the Final Chelsea’s Coach at Whitehaven sat down with her to find out a bit more about our very own starlet!!
So Chelsea can you explain what the England Talent Pathway that you have been selected for is, and how were you nominated to trial and where did you do the trial at?
The JS8 England talent pathway is a program which identifies and prepares talented young players with the potential to become a senior lioness with the objective of winning major tournaments. The pathway plays an essential role in the identification and confirmation of talent ensuring the best players are available to womens england team. I was nominated by a number of people and coaches at Sunderland RTC. The trails were held at Cochraine park in the north east Newcastle.
What type of practices did you do at the trials, what was the talent like at the trials?
At the trials it was a 3v3 format where there was coaches watching across the pitches taking notes.
The talent was really high with probably some of the best players in the north east and west of England there and I always try and play against the best players I can.
What did you enjoy best from the trials, and what did you think you did well to be recognised?
Playing the game I love to play but loved the 3v3 because it was quick fast football so you had to be quick with your decision making on the ball. People who know me knows my work rate is a big part of my game so it would of been one of my strongest points but also I was brave on the ball playing under pressure. Knowing when to stay on the ball and when to release the ball, checking my shoulders and using communication was really good and tactically good.
How did you find out you have been successful and I believe you had a zoom call, what was that like?
I got an email from Jess who is one of the coaches, to say I had been selected to be a part of the program. On the first session we had a zoom call from Jill Scott who has had over 150 caps for England. She was on the call live from the euro’s telling us what the program is about and why we’ve been selected.
When did you start football and what made you enjoy it so much?
I started playing football when I was 7 years old. I enjoy playing because I love playing football but most of all I made loads of close friends playing and being part of a team, that’s the reason I love playing.
To reach the level you have is amazing, and I’m sure you have had to work really hard, can you describe a week in the life of Chelsea and how you fit it all in?
Not quite sure how I fit it all in, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I’m up for school and finish at 2.30 to travel between 2 and half to 3 hours to training. I then need to get changed in the car on the way down and also do my homework in the car. I also have my tea prepared and ready for training. Training lasts 2 hours then travel back home. Tuesdays and Fridays after school I always do some ball work or go for a run with my sisters but on Fridays, I travel down to Newcastle for England training and Saturdays is game day. On Sundays, depending were Leanna is playing, I go watch my sister play and sometimes play for my team Whitehaven.
As your coach Chelsea, one thing I always admire is how down time earth you are and that you still come back to your team, what’s it like having the support of your team behind you and what do you like about still being involved with the team?
Thank you Rob, love being a part of the team it’s like one big family. I started playing here so when I hear all the nice comments about me it make me want to do more and push myself more, this is why I still love being a part of this team.
Now Chelsea, we want to know some of what makes Chelsea……well Chelsea
So what’s your favourite naughty food, that you only allowed as a treat?
My naughtiest food is probably doner meat from the takeaway.
Proper northern lass then eh 😂
Suppose we better ask what is your fave healthy food as well in case England Coaches read this??
My favourite food is strawberries and chicken.
Which football team do you support, Mens & Womens?
My favourite football team in mens is Newcastle united and in the womens it’s Chelsea.
That’s handy then, Chelsea who supports Chelsea 😅
Which player inspired you the most when growing up, Men or Woman?
My favourite player is Kante in the mens and Fran Kirby in the womens.
I’ve got to agree with Mini Messi aka Kirby there Chelsea, fantastic player, and if I’m honest your very much a cool blend of Fran & Kante in how you play!!
Whose your Fave Lioness and why?
My favourite lioness is Fran kirby, she’s just an unbelievable footballer.
You must on them long journeys, like to listen to music at times, what music gets your foot tapping?
My favourite music is any kind of pop music, nothing in particular.
I know you study really hard as well as your football which is so important, what is your favourite subject and why?
My favourite subject is p.e because I get to do play more sports, which I love.
Back to the football, where does young Chelsea see older Chelsea in a few years, maybe in your 20s, what’s your dream?
I hope if I keep working hard I can achieve anything but I would love to be playing at the top level of the game, in the WSL and playing for my country, England.
Now I know your Whitehaven team did a keepy uppy challenge during the Covid Lockdown, I know it was close between you and me, but you did manage to win, what was your record?
Yeah it was very close 🤣, I think it was 442.
Other than getting this place on the England Talent Pathway, what’s been your greatest football moment at both Grassroots level with Whitehaven and also outside of Whitehaven, so maybe at the Academy?
There’s a few but being made Captain and beating Man Utd away 1-0 and Man City 3-1. Also winning the Thomson tournament with Whitehaven in Carlisle.
I know you like to embarrass a few of your Whitehaven coaches these days with mad skills, whose your fave to pick on for laughs 🤣??
Gilly (Graham Gill) one night, he was in the nets down at Whitehaven and I sat him down and went round him for a tap in.
Sat him down 🤣 love it, I don’t think his knees have recovered.
I know Chelsea is a really well rounded footballer and is hugely talented in all areas of football, what would you say is your greatest strength as a player, and what would Chelsea like to improve on more?
My greatest strength as a player is probably work rate on and off the ball and I would like to improve on my all round game to be the best I can be.
Is there anything else Chelsea you would like to add before I leave you?
I would like to thank mam and dad, mam driving me everywhere and dad doing all them extra sessions after a day at work. I’d also like to thank all my family for all they do for me and everyone who supports me + all the coaches, players and parents down at Whitehaven but most of all down at the club, Rob Campbell, who always supports me and my sisters. He helped me massively as a player as Rob coached me from when I was 8 years old and developed me as a player. I remember when I would never leave the defence I just defended but eventually rob got me up to midfield then eventually striker, which develops me more as a player. When I went to the rtc I was comfortable and had an understanding in playing in a number of positions. Thank you for everythink rob.
That’s really kind of you Chelsea, it’s a real privilege to coach you and your already star in my mind!!