KAYLEIGH Appleton is making her mark on the world of women’s football.
The St Anthony’s sixth form student is playing in defence for both Newcastle and Tyneside ladies.
“I’ve played about five matches for Tyneside, and I started playing for Newcastle at the beginning of the season,” said the 17-year-old.
“It started off as a hobby, but as I’m getting better I want to get something out of it in the long run.”
Kayleigh trains for two hours, three times a week and plays matches at weekends.
She also coaches a girls’ team at Grangetown Primary School.
Having played football since she was a pupil there herself, she has a lot of experience and a level one Durham FA Coaching Badge, and is training for her level two.
“My mam roped me into doing training sessions with the school at their last sports day, and I really enjoyed doing it,” she said.
“After that the headteacher was keen to set up a girls’ team, and once we got enough people to sign up for it, I started training with them.
“The headteacher at Southmoor School has asked me to go back and do training sessions with their team too.
“I set up a girls’ team when I was there and it has kept going since I left.”
Kayleigh, from Grangetown, added: “Sometimes I do get really tired. It’s hard at times but I really enjoy it.
“I think it’s important for people to know more about women’s football.
“Some people are really sexist and shove girls’ football out the way.
“Yes, girls can play football. I think girls’ is better than boys’, but maybe that’s just me being biased.”
Kayleigh says she wants to play for Sunderland eventually – and England.
She has been for trials with the national side twice, missing out because she was too young the first time and then injured.
It is not just football that Kayleigh is passionate about. She is also studying for A-levels in art, French and English literature, with predicted A grades.
She also takes the Guides’ Young Leader’s Course and is working towards her Queen’s Guide Award, having already gained the Baden Powell award.
“I want to go to Durham Uni, so I’m just doing everything I can to improve my application,” she said.
“I don’t know if I want to do sport at uni. I would like to do primary school teaching.
“If I could combine the two I would, but I don’t know exactly what I want to do yet.”