North Walsham schoolgirl plays football for England
A North Walsham High schoolgirl has made her full international football debut for England – playing two matches for England U15s against the Netherlands over the half-term break.
14-year-old Lauren Hemp has been training with the U15s squad for some time, and with their first fixture since May 2014, she was finally able to receive a cap for the two games, which were part of a week-long England U15s Football Camp at Warwick University.
Alongside her first caps, Lauren was also made vice-captain by FA coaches, in recognition of her outstanding effort and commitment in training. Following a substitution, she was handed the captain's armband for most of the second half of the second match of the week.
The England team drew 1-1 with the Netherlands in the first fixture, on Wednesday last week, with England's goal coming after a free kick taken by Lauren rebounded off the post. The team was beaten 3-1 in the second fixture, on Friday.
'I am extremely proud to have represented my country, and to have played the full 80 minutes in both matches,' said Lauren.
Paul Bradshaw, head of PE at North Walsham High School, added: 'We are delighted that Lauren has been capped by her country. It is thoroughly deserved - she continues to work incredibly hard and we at the school are very proud of her.
'She displays high levels of dedication and commitment to everything she does and these qualities were evident in the games. I am sure this will be the first honour of many to come her way.'
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With the closure of the Girls Centre of Excellence at Norwich City Football Club, Lauren is set to return to grassroots football next season, when she will play for North Walsham Boys U16s. This is an initiative supported by the Women's FA, which is encouraging girls to train and play with boys in order to build strength.
With her eye on the England U16s training camp in August, Lauren is also working hard to maintain her fitness levels over the summer period, and to help with this North Walsham's Victory Swim and Fitness Centre has given her complimentary membership so that she can make use of the centre's gym and swimming facilities.