A GIFTED, young footballer has completed a full season of training at the England u15 National Talent Camps - part of the FA Lionness talent pathway.

Player Lillie Quinlivan Coulson, of Wylam, is balancing her GCSE studies with intense training.

The teenager, who has just turned 15, is the youngest member of the u16 girls’ squad at Sunderland RTC – historically one of the best Tier 1 FA Regional Talent Clubs in the country – and has trained with Sunderland’s academy for five years.

A Year 10 student at Dame Allan’s Schools, in Newcastle, Lillie also played in the u16 Northumberland squad this season and, for the first time in its history, helped the team win the Northern Counties Cup.

Lillie started football in 2013, playing for the Wylam Rockets and, at the age of 10, joined the NUFC foundation elite training squad before being selected to play for the Sunderland u11 team.

“I’ve played football since I was six years old and absolutely love it", she said. "I train in Sunderland four evenings a week and play a match most weekends, so it is a huge commitment - but my family, friends and school are all supportive.

“I fell in love with football so young and am grateful that I’ve been able to play at the level I have. It’s great to see more girls being interested in it and taking part.”

Lillie dedicates at least 20 hours each week to the sport, in both travel and training.

“While her dream is to play football professionally, Lillie is on a dual career pathway and works incredibly hard off the pitch, with plans to perhaps forge a career in business or finance,” said mum Ann Quinlivan Coulson.

“In her heart, Lillie is a true Lioness and has been incredibly dedicated to her football from a young age. It’s great to see such passion for a sport that is really evolving.”

Lillie also played for the ISFA (Independent Schools’ Football Association) u16 squad this season and recently captained the side against the ESFA (English Schools’ Football Association).

She was also selected to play with the Durham and Northumberland County elite squad, captaining the team in the annual home nations football tournament the Bob Docherty Cup. She also played with the Newcastle Schools FA u15 girls’ team.