Students dare to dream of England Lionesses spot after trial success

Keira Swanson wins spot at Cambridgeshire Coaching Centre for England Lionesses

Keira Swanson has sealed her place on the Cambridgeshire Advanced Coaching Centre programme as she targets a future spot in the England Lionesses squad. - Credit: Supplied/Ceri Robinson

Four secondary school pupils are dreaming of a future spot in the England Lionesses’ squad after achieving success on a development programme. 

Students from Neale-Wade Academy in March were chosen to take part in Advanced Coaching Centre (ACC) programmes as part of the FA’s Lioness talent pathway. 

Steph Brown’s daughter Poppie is one to seal her spot in the regional ACC, having first joined the county’s ACC programme at eight-years-old. 

“When Poppie started, there were not many female footballers and she has always played in boys' teams since she was six,” Steph said. 

“She is an amazingly talented footballer."

Poppie, now 14 and who plays in Leverington Sports’ girls' setup, will play for March Town Athletic’s under 15 team as of next season while training with other ACCs in the eastern region. 

As part of the programme, Poppie will play matches for her grassroots club as well as potentially six or more fixtures a season against other ACCs over a 29-week period.

Poppie Brown Cambridgeshire England Lioness pathway

Steph Brown's daughter Poppie has qualified on the regional Advanced Coaching Centre programme, having started on the county programme aged eight-years-old. - Credit: Supplied/Steph Brown

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“Poppie would like to make a career out of football,” Steph said. 

“Some people wait to play football and want to get there, but probably don’t get a chance, but I do think Poppie has a glimour of hope.” 

Meanwhile, 15-year-old Keira Swanson passed two trials to seal her spot at the Cambridgeshire ACC, which starts in September and will play for a grassroots team next season. 

Keira Swanson in March Rangers kit

Keira Swanson when she started playing football for March Rangers. - Credit: Supplied/Ceri Robinson

Keira, who has played for the likes of March Rangers and FC Parson Drove, will train with the Peterborough United Ladies’ setup as well as the Cambridgeshire ACC. 

“Every season, she has played she has always scored goals, her lowest being 17 and her highest being 33,” Ceri Swanson, Keira’s mum, said. 

“Keira wanted to apply for the trials as she enjoys playing football, being part of a team and bettering herself and others.   

“Keira has battled through injuries, but the real challenges start now and with her grit and determination, we know she will get there.” 

Neale-Wade have also praised all four students for their achievements. 

Samantha Bathurst, head of PE, said: “We are extremely fortunate at Neale-Wade Academy to have so many talented individuals in sport.

“The girls put all their time and effort into their passion and deserve every opportunity available to them.” 

The Advanced Coaching Centre programme aim to support the development and progression of players, as well as being accessible to players across England. 

Players can be nominated for ACC trials by a grassroots coach, teacher or they can apply themselves. 

Last month, a Cromwell Community College student sealed her spot on the Lioness pathway.