Footballer Jennifer gets England call-up
SHE started by kicking a ball about in the garden with her dad – now Jennifer Smith is celebrating an England call-up.
The Mangotsfield School pupil has already played at Wembley and won cups with her girls' club side.
But now she has been put on the road to representing her country by being invited to an England talent camp.
Year 8 pupil Jennifer, who turns 13 in November, can play as a striker, winger or in centre midfield and hopes to play professionally when she is older.
She has been coached by the Gloucestershire FA Advance Coaching Centre and picked for the county under-14s side, where she is playing alongside girls a year older than she is.
Her talent has now been spotted by England and she is attending the FA Girls' National Performance Camp as one of 48 girls in her age group on the England Talent Pathway for players with elite potential.
England girls' sides start at under-15 level, so the performance camp is seen as a precursor to representing the nation on the pitch.
Jennifer, who lives in Kingswood with mum Louise and dad Andy, said: "I hope to play for England team one day. I watched the World Cup this year and when I went to Wembley I met (England international) Jordan Nobbs – that was good.
"I used to play in the garden with my dad when I was younger and it went from there.
"I love PE and playing for local club sides."
Louise said Jennifer, a former Park Primary School pupil, plays for Longwell Green Juniors' girls under-14s side, and has won the Gloucestershire FA County Cup two years in a row. She also coaches younger players. She was part of the Mangotsfield School team which represented Bristol Rovers in a national tournament earlier this year, earning a Wembley final.
Jennifer also plays in a mixed under-13s team for Bitton.
Louise said: "There are about three other girls who are part of the team. Sometimes they play all-boy teams who rock up, see some girls and think 'this will be easy' - but it's not always the case!"
Mangotsfield School head teacher David Spence said: "As a school, we are incredibly proud of Jenny's call-up to the England squad.
"It's a fantastic achievement and testament to the brilliant support she has had, and her own hard work.
"Mangotsfield is totally committed to girls' PE, which is getting ever stronger.
"Women's football is booming, and Jenny was part of our successful EFL Girls Cup team who played as Bristol Rovers at Wembley in March this year."