Hemp an ‘inspiration’ for young women in Norfolk, says ex-coach

Ex-North Walsham high school student Lauren Hemp has been drafted into Phil Neville's England squad

Ex-North Walsham high school student Lauren Hemp has been drafted into Phil Neville's England squad ahead of a friendly against Portugal. 31/5/2018 Picture: Tom Flathers, Manchester City. - Credit: Archant

Lauren Hemp's inclusion in Phil Neville's England women's squad marks a landmark achievement for the Norfolk player, with the announcement being met with pride from her local area.

For the Community Sports Foundation's head of development Jackie Thornton, Kemp's journey provokes personal pride, given she used to coach the former England U17 captain.

Thornton is now hoping to use the inspiration of the ex-North Walsham High School pupil to encourage other girls to take up the sport from an early age.

"Lauren is a fantastic player but also a great role model as well," she said. "We're so pleased for her; she deserves all the opportunities she's getting at the moment."

Hemp's talents were honed in Norfolk, with the Manchester City striker being developed in the county before establishing herself professionally with Bristol City prior to her move to the north-west.

Thornton recalled how she knew Hemp was a talented operator the first time she saw her play in her previous role as the foundation's first girls' football development officer.

Now, she's hoping others will draw inspiration from Hemp's meteoric rise which has seen her progress from the under-15s set-up to the senior women's team in just four years.

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"She's a great role model for Norfolk kids who can see you can actually do these things," she said. "It shows you don't actually have to play at Arsenal from an early age; you can still achieve things here in Norfolk."

Emma Fletcher was also involved in Hemp's development during her stint with the foundations women's team.

She was delighted with the news of Hemp's call-up. tweeting: "So incredibly proud of you, Lauren, always had the right attitude."

Norwich City's business and project manager Zoe Ward believes Hemp's call-up displays the pathway available to young girls in the county.

"The foundation creates a pathway and girls can come and play here from a really young age," she said. "We want them to work through that pathway to grow and develop to move onto bigger and better things, including international call-ups."

The 19-year old will be hoping for her debut in tonight's friendly against Portugal.

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