Three of Devon’s most promising young footballers - including Kingsbridge goalkeeper Freya Weeks - are sharing their inspiring stories to encourage more girls to get involved in the game. 

Issi Hebard, Kiesha Walker, and Freya play in the Devon FA Girls’ Under-16 team and now they’ve been selected for the England talent pathway. 

Their message to other young girls in Devon with dreams of playing football is: “If we can do this, so can you.”

Freya has been playing football since she was about seven and was inspired by two of her older brothers, who are also goalkeepers. After starting off in the grass roots boys’ team in Ivybridge, Freya now plays at Plymouth Argyle, Bristol City and the Devon Under-16s.

She also goes to the Women’s FA High Performance Centre at Plymouth Marjon University, where she gets specialist coaching for goalkeepers.

She has progressed from Devon Under-12s: “Devon FA is the main reason I got onto the England talent pathway,” said Freya, who’s just turned 15. “The England camp that I’ve just been on was incredible. I played half a game against Wales and the full game against Greece – and I kept two clean sheets, which was nice!

“My number one hope for the future is to be at any higher club, winning trophies, and hopefully to be involved in the England set-up. Mary Earps has been a big inspiration for me. She wasn’t in a good place a few years ago, not being selected for the national team, and she’s turned that around and has won so much. It shows what anyone can do if you just keep on trying and don’t give up.

“I feel it’s so inspiring, seeing all the little girls playing football now,” she added. “A girl at my sister’s primary school asked me the other day, ‘how does it feel to play in an England shirt?’ She plays football as well and I said, ‘you’ve just got to keep pushing, working hard on and off the pitch, and you’ll get to where you want to be’. The first thing to do is to get involved, go to any club – because you don’t know where it’s going to take you. If you find you’re getting good, trial for a bigger club, and if you get in, just work hard. And have fun!”

The Devon FA are hoping Freya’s story will encourage girls who might not be aware of the opportunities and support available for them. 

Matt Hodgson, Devon FA Football Development Manager and Devon FA Girls Emerging Talent Centre Manager, said: “We've worked really hard in Devon over the past decade to grow the provision and opportunity for young female footballers with talent.”

Devon FA Under 16s girls team (Devon FA)