Talented teenager from Norwich City Football Club wins US soccer scholarship
- Credit: Matthew Usher
A football star of the future is following her sporting dream after she won a lucrative opportunity to study in America.
Ellie Smith, who plays for Norwich City Football Club, will be jetting across the Atlantic this summer to study at Rider University, between New York and Philadelphia.
The 18-year-old, who went through the ranks Norwich City Centre of Excellence, where she was a four-time player of the year, has been given a full scholarship to study psychology while furthering her footballing career with the Rider Broncs.
Life-long Norwich City fan Ellie, from Dereham, said she 'cannot wait' to go.
She said: 'I've played football pretty much from the moment I could walk. Football is my dream. I'm very excited, I wish I could go now.'
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The Dereham Sixth Form student, who is studying psychology, sociology and geography, was talent-spotted by Norwich City scouts when she was just 12.
She went for trials with Rider University in London in December 2012 and will be studying out in New Jersey for four years.
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The teenager, who works part-time at the Railway Tavern in Dereham, said she hopes to make it as a professional footballer.
'That's my aim,' said the centre midfielder who played for Dereham Wanderers before she was scouted by Norwich City.
'Women's football is taken much more seriously in America and to get the full scholarship you had to be good academically as well as for your football and I got a good enough score. It's amazing, there's nothing like it here.'
Ellie, whose dad Roderick got her into football and swims and runs as part of her training, will fly out to America at the start of August.
She made up the ninth Bronc to be added to the 2014 team.
Rider head coach Drayson Hounsome said: 'We have followed Ellie's progress very closely since first identifying her in London in 2012 and know she has the potential to have a big impact in the MAAC (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference).
'She is athletic and technically gifted, with excellent balance and composure on the ball. She can play as either a striker or midfielder and is a great addition to offensive unit of players.'
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