Barnsley born and bred footballer Beth England has renewed her contract with Chelsea Ladies Football Club until 2019. Beth, from Kingstone, signed her first contract with Chelsea back in January 2016.
The 22-year-old has played for England under-15s, under-19s and currently plays for the under-23s team.
Beth first started playing football on the street outside her grandma’s house, aged just six years old.
“My friend Josh initially got me involved with football. I started playing for Junior Tykes, about three years before the age gap that girls could play with boys,” she said.
She also competed for Barnsley Athletics Club until the age of 16, doing almost every event possible – from javelin and triple jump, to the 100 metres.
“I did athletics alongside football. When I was 16 it just became a decision that I loved football more than I loved athletics, so that was the career path that I went down.
“I also went through Sheffield United’s Centre of Excellence Academies, Sheffield Girls team, then got scouted for Doncaster Belles when I was 16, so played there for five seasons before Chelsea came and scouted me, then I moved down here.”
But what are the most exciting parts about playing for Chelsea?
“I played at an FA cup final with Chelsea at Wembley last year against Arsenal, and in a Champions League game at Stamford Bridge which was a nice stage to play on. Quite a lot has happened since I came.
“Chelsea is pretty great. I’m a northern girl at heart and I love being up north, so coming down south and being away from my family was a bit of a lifestyle change, but I think I’ve adapted quite well. It’s a great club to be at.
“I couldn’t be prouder being from South Yorkshire, and I’m grateful that the hard work I put in over the years has paid off and that I’m here.”
Beth spoke about how much Chelsea has helped her career as a professional female footballer, and the experience she has gained.
“Within women’s football it’s quite hard to guarantee a spot so I’m quite secure in the fact that I know I’ve still got another three years of employment here.
“Obviously for my career I think it’s one of the best clubs to be at, and I think I’m getting more time with England because I’m exposed to it. Experiencing games like the FA cup and Champions league finals contributes to enhancing my career so I’m over the moon that they wanted to extend and renew my contract with them.”
Women’s football is currently growing more and more. With the introduction of Girls’ Football Week in 2015, and the #WeCanPlay movement, more girls are playing for teams from a younger age. Beth spoke about how important this is for the future of the sport.
“It’s growing rapidly but it’s not there yet. We’re getting more TV coverage and more exposure.
“There’s so many more teams with younger girls starting up. Now all I’m seeing is loads of grass-roots girls teams and little girls growing up that are not afraid or ashamed to be in what is perceived as a boy’s sport. We’re starting to challenge that now,” she said.