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Meet Britain's best female footballer
Around the Academy:

Jayne Ludlow, right
Football was always Jayne Ludlow's first love
Not even the lure of Olympic gold was enough to prevent Jayne Ludlow pursuing a career in football.

She won her first senior Wales cap aged just 15.

Now she's widely regarded as one of Britain's finest women's footballers.

The surging midfielder helped Arsenal to a trophy treble last season.

And this year she added to her medal haul by picking up the league's prestigious Player of the Year award for a second time in succession.


Why did you choose to turn your back on a promising career in athletics to concentrate on football?
I used to do the long jump and the triple jump.

I was the British record holder in the triple jump at Under-17 level and I also represented Great Britain Under-20s.

There were loads of people planning out my future for me, but my heart wasn't in it

I was training on my own in Cardiff and I missed the camaraderie of football.

Football was always my first love and I didn't want to spend my time doing something I didn't enjoy.

Your dad is an ex-professional, has he been a big influence on your career?
My dad stopped playing when he was quite young.

But he coached a few Welsh League teams and he always used to take me along with him to training sessions.

We'd also go to the local park where we'd do one-on-one training sessions and he'd help me practice crossing the ball and finishing.

Even after all that, I still used to make him come out with me for a kick about in the back garden.

Jayne in action
In action for Arsenal

A lot of girls drop out of football when they get to an age where they can't play in boys' teams any more. Was that a problem for you?
Like so many girls I played in boys' teams until I was about 12 years old.

Personally I don't see why girls should have to play in separate teams.

I was always bigger and physically stronger than any of the boys anyway - and a lot quicker!

Coming from the valleys there were no girls' teams when I was growing up which is why I ended up having to travel to Barry to play.

Are there more opportunities for girls in Wales now?
There are definitely more opportunities for girls these days.

There are teams popping up everywhere and the schools development programme is a lot better.

People within the Wales set-up are looking at the women's game a lot more, we're getting a lot more help.

Women's football is the fastest-growing women's sport in the world, so if it's happening everywhere else, why can't it happen in Wales.

How did you end up playing with Arsenal?
After doing my A levels, I took up the offer of a scholarship in the United States.

But I decided it was not for me and returned to Britain.

After America, I went to university in London because I wanted to join a better team.

I played for Southampton and Milwall but when the offer came to play at Arsenal, I jumped at it.

Although we're not professional players, with Arsenal it's as near to it as we can get.

Training is hard and it's competitive.

If you're not performing there are other players who are, so you have to fight for your place.



STAR TIP::

Jayne Ludlow
Jayne Ludlow

British athletes tend to stay in the comfort zone, but you'll never achieve your potential that way. I always push myself to the limit.


Jayne Ludlow
Date of birth: 7 January 1979
Place of Birth: Llwynpia, Rhondda Valley
Club: Arsenal
Position: Midfielder
Favourite player:Roy Keane
Ambition: To win the European Cup with Arsenal and to qualify for a major championship with Wales.
Occupation: Jayne has just qualified as a physiotherapist


Think you could make it at Arsenal?
If you are interested in joining the Arsenal Ladies Academy and are in year 11 or aged 16-19 call 0207 704 4149.



INTERNET LINKS >>
:: Arsenal Ladies FC
:: Barry Ladies FC

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