For any budding young footballer there must be no greater feeling than being called up to play for your country. That is the reality for Billingham teenager Eleanor.
After years of impressing on the playing fields of Teesside, the 17-year-old was called up to make her England Women’s Under-17 debut in January this year. Called back to training camp in London, playing the USA last month, it looks like there is plenty more to come.
The next stop is now Hungary for the SRC Bede Sixth Form student where she will represent England in the UEFA Women’s Under-17 Championship.
“It is an amazing feeling,” said Eleanor who has been honing her skills on the football pitch for as long as she can remember.
Clearly destined for great things, she has worked her way from Billingham Town to Boro Rangers, the Teesside Centre of Excellence and her current team is Middlesbrough Women’s first team.
Even with all those years of practice, she describes playing for England as one of the most nerve wracking things she has ever done. But it is also a dream come true.
“I have never been so scared for anything,” she said, looking back on her debut against France, closely followed by a Germany match.
But she said: “It is hard to explain, they give us these England team jackets and when you put them on, there are no words to describe it.”
With games now lined up against Georgia, Hungary and Greece, a strong run could see the team through to the Women’s Under-17 Euros this May.
With a love of football running in the family, Eleanor’s granddad is former Middlesbrough FC player Michael Hill and her sister is in the under-15 national team, she said: “Thinking that going to the Euros is even a possibility is unbelievable.”
Hoping to eventually go on to play for the England women’s first team, training and playing takes time and dedication but she still manages to study A level Law, Psychology and Sport at SRC Bede in Billingham and has a part-time job as well.
She said: “It has been really hard and it is full on, I don’t get a lot of free time, but it is worth it.”
A dual career accredited college by the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), SRC Bede is well positioned to support Eleanor as she pursues her sporting ambition. The college has also formed a partnership with Durham Women FC to enable up and coming young players the chance to shine.
Eleanor said: “There aren’t that many opportunities in this area for women’s football so it is fantastic that these options are available for up and coming young players.”