With England ladies’ team putting in a record-breaking performance at the Women’s World Cup, their success has spurred on one talented young footballer who has her sights set on one day playing for the national side.
Last night, having reached the semi-final of the World Cup for the first time in history, England ladies played holders Japan for the right to face the United States in the final in Vancouver on Sunday.
And one person glued to the TV screen overnight, despite the unsociable hour, was football fan Rianne Woodham, 20, who has not missed a match in the tournament yet.
The Leeds Beckett sports and coaching student, who has been playing the sport since the age of six, is set to jet to America on August 7 after winning a coveted scholarship to play at a Tennessee university soccer team.
She hopes the trip will be a stepping stone to playing professionally and getting noticed by England football talent scouts over the next few years. The scholarship came about after one of her teammates at Wetherby Athletic Ladies first team invited agents from Sports Recruiting USA to watch her play. But Rianne, from Otley, said she was shocked to learn she had won the prestigious place. She said: “It was literally unreal. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I never thought for a million years that I’d get offered this.”
Rianne - who used to play for Pool AFC and has coached in the village for the past six years - will now complete her degree at Bryan College in Tennessee while playing for the university team.
“Hopefully if I can get a contract, I will be able to stay out there and improve and hopefully get seen by people back in England. It’s a bit scary going for such a long time but I’m so excited. It’s amazing to be able to play every single day. Playing for England is the big dream - but I’ll take it step by step. With the World Cup going on at the moment, I’m watching every single game, going ‘Oh my days, I want that to be me’.”
To donate to Rianne’s travel costs, visit www.pledgesports.org/projects/football-sponsorship-rianne-woodham/