A Sutton Coldfield football manager has spoken of his pride after a former player was selected for training with the England Lionesses under-16 squad.
Fifteen-year-old Arthur Terry School student, Martha MacPhail, who started her career as the only girl in manager John Watts’ under-7s Sutton Coldfield Town Juniors football team, was selected to attend the England Lionesses U16 residential training camp at St George’s Park National Performance Centre in Burton.
Martha plays for Aston Villa Women’s Regional Talent Centre U16s and is also part of the newly-formed Villa Women’s Academy talent day release programme. The sporty Year 11 student undertook intense match training, including strength and conditioning, along with education workshops around performance psychology.
Now manager of the successful under -16 Sutton Town team, John paid tribute to his former player. He said: “Martha’s ability was clear to see from as young as four years old. Luckily for me, my son is her best friend, there was no way in the world she was playing for any other team but ours.
“What set her apart from any other player was her ability to quickly pick up and use a complex skill successfully and consistently during a game. The praise she received in those five years from opposing team mangers and parents alike is unquantifiable. Such wonderful technique and superb agility only scratch the surface of what is incredible young lady.”
Versatile Martha, who plays in various positions, said: “I was pleased to have been selected for the camp this time round, given the current climate with Covid. It’s been hard keeping fit throughout the last six months, but I have been focused on my goals and hopefully I’ll be rewarded with an England call up one day!”
But the modest youngster added that her foremost goal was forging a career with Aston Villa first.
During her training, Martha was assigned time to complete her school work. Aston Villa Women has launched a dual career pathway, a programme to support future stars of the game to manage elite football expectations and studies so that players are well qualified individuals.
Cristina Torkildsen, Youth Technical Director at Aston Villa Women’s Football Club, said: “We couldn’t be prouder of Marty for her international call up, she deserves it and has worked incredibly hard to achieve this.
“Marty has been in and around England Camps for the last few years, but this was her first England U16s Training Camp and that’s a recognition of the great work she has put in over the last few years and beyond. Marty has a huge personality with bags of potential and we have no doubt that this was the first of many – hope she enjoyed every second.”
Martha, who was previously selected to attend an England Women’s U15 training camp, started her career with Sutton Coldfield Town Juniors Football Club U7, before moving on to Aston Villa Women, Birmingham City RTC and Birmingham Women.
Arthur Terry School PE teacher Donna Horspool said: “Martha’s dedication and attitude towards chasing her dreams is exemplary, she is a fabulous role model around school and deserves the success she is receiving.”
She added that Martha has “contributed significantly” to the success of Arthur Terry School’s football team, helping them to be crowned Birmingham School Futsal Champions, Erdington and Saltley Cup Champions, West Midlands County Cup Champions and English Schools Quarter Finalists. Martha is also an integral member of the West Midlands Schoolgirls County Team, working tirelessly to help them reach the semi-final of the National Cup.
Samantha Kibble, headteacher of Arthur Terry School, which is part of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP), said: “We’re delighted that Martha was chosen to train with England at this level. This honour is testament to her hard work and talent. She is incredibly gifted and dedicated, both as a player and as a student, and we were all cheering her on at home.”
Sutton Coldfield Town Juniors Football Club and Sutton Coldfield Town Football Club have formed a working partnership to provide ‘Football for All’ and become one of Birmingham Football Associations new HUB CLUBS and achieve the COMMUNITY CHARTER STANDARD.
Sutton Coldfield Town Football Club provide an opportunity for everyone to enjoy playing and taking part in football related activities. The two clubs have, for a long time, been successfully representing Sutton Coldfield in junior and senior football but have now found the formula to work together to promote football across the community for the benefit of all abilities and give progression opportunities for players to move from junior to senior football.
Sutton Coldfield Town Juniors Football Club currently run 18 junior teams (aged 7 to 16) from their ground at Bishop Walsh School and run a Saturday morning soccer school for girls and boys. Teams can play in the Central Warwickshire league at the weekend – and they have the opportunity to progress into the higher level Junior Premier League. Players can also be selected to join the Sutton Coldfield Town Academy teams where promotion into the under 18, under 21 and senior team is now a real opportunity.