Freya Heap, Year 10
Football. The sport I have always wanted to play and never stopped playing since the age of around four. The sport which I have never ever fallen out of love with. My career started when I was six, where I just played for a local boys’ team, Queensgate, from 2011 to 2015, getting better year in, year out. Eventually my time at Queensgate came to an end and I joined Stockport County LFC for two years, from 2015 to 2017. However, during the 2016/17 season I suffered a knee injury which left me with stitches, resulting in me being out of football for twelve weeks, a hard journey, but as I look back on it now, it made me stronger and I came back fitter than ever.
After two years at Stockport, I signed for my first academy when I was twelve – Manchester United U12s, I had one season there and then left to join Blackburn Rovers U14s in 2018 – the first year I was there was when I was thirteen, which meant I was playing up a year group, which was harder but again developed me so much in the space of two years. Then at the end of the 19/20 season I left and was signed up for Manchester City U16s, where I am now playing, after being offered a one-year contract in June 2020.
My passion for football came from just watching it on TV with my dad, and then, when I was about four, I started kicking a little soft ball around the house, and before I knew it, I was playing it and watching it live at games. I support Man Utd, and although we’ve had rough seasons in the past, there’s no doubt about it that it’s still the best club in the world.
I think, for me, the desire to make it as a pro comes from wanting to be successful and have a really good career in football, and that itself motivates me to keep playing and training. I want to be the best football player in the world and for me to get to that long-term goal takes a shed load of hard work, determination, and commitment and all of that I am willing to accept.
I think getting called up to an England Training Camp in the 19/20 season has to be one of the most important and most special moments so far. In terms of injuries, I’ve been fairly lucky, not suffering from many to start with and when I have, they haven’t kept me out of action for more than twelve weeks, which was the longest I’ve been out for with my knee.
I faced the challenge of not knowing which position to play in; when I was younger I was getting played all over the pitch, centre half, full back, centre mid, striker, winger, goalkeeper, literally everywhere. It was only when I was about eleven I realized I just couldn’t stop going in goal, diving around in the mud – I loved it, so I got put in net more and more often until it became a thing of week in week out in goal. And within a year of becoming a goalkeeper, I was there signing for Man Utd, and all the hard work I had put in paid off, and I couldn’t wait to carry on.
I think I’ve highlighted some of my ambitions for football throughout this article, but for me the main one is I want to make it pro, I want to make my family proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’ve worked hard for almost ten years now to get into the position I am lucky enough to be in now, and I’m not going to give that up any time soon. My idol from the men’s game has always been Manuel Neuer, the goalkeeper for Bayern Munich, he’s a top-class goalkeeper, pulling off some absolutely incredible saves and is just a complete idol of mine. In the women’s game I love watching Ellie Roebuck, the Man City goalkeeper but I also really enjoy watching Carly Telford, a top-class goalkeeper who plays for Chelsea, again amazing talent in both of these players, technically and physically.
If I had to give advice to younger people wanting to get into this sport but not sure, or younger people playing football already, I think I would have to say, hard work – hard work gets you to places you don’t even know you can get to, you can’t achieve anything without hard work. Work hard, play hard and chase your dreams, they’ll become reality one day.