“It used to be a dream for girls that football could be a job but now it is a reality”
Beth Mead is in her final year studying BA (Hons) Sports Development at Teesside University and is also on its Elite Athlete Scheme, which provides individual support to undergraduates with potential to compete at international level.
Beth, originally from Whitby, backed the FA Girls’ Football week campaign and is encouraging more young female players to have the belief that they can make it as professional footballers.
“Women’s football is getting a lot bigger and the World Cup earlier this year had a massive impact,” she said.
“The team showed so much desire and commitment – they wanted to do the country proud and that is what people like to see.
“The women’s game is getting more media attention and television coverage and young girls are getting more interested. It used to be a dream for girls that football could be a job but now it is a reality.”
Beth, 20, started playing football at the age of six when her mother took her to a boys’ session to help her burn off some energy. She showed natural ability and soon started playing regularly at grass roots level.
“It had a massive impact on me and I was playing competitively from an early age,” she explained.
Teesside University runs an FA Centre of Excellence, helping the next generation of female footballers reach their full potential.
Beth, who has represented her country at every junior level, was at the Centre of Excellence from the age of 10 until she was 16 and was snapped up by Sunderland.
She added: “The Centre of Excellence provided a perfect platform for me to develop as a young footballer. It is fantastic to have access to something like that where you can progress from grass roots level, through the Centre of Excellence and then to a professional club.
“Sunderland are a great club and for me it was an easy decision to join them. I’ve never looked back – I have won three league titles and am playing in the top league in the country.”
Beth still receives support from Teesside University as part of the Elite Athlete Scheme which provides a comprehensive package, including physiological and biomechanical assessment and training support, monitoring of training loads, strength and conditioning, physiotherapy and sports psychology support.
“The Elite Athlete Scheme has really helped my development, my understanding of nutrition, strength and conditioning and the psychological aspect of my game,” explained Beth.
“You get extremely well-informed advice and support and it has enabled me to improve my game and become a better athlete.”