Some students decide to spend their gap year travelling. Others choose to work. But Zoe Cross will be spending hers training with the Chelsea Ladies’ first-team.
The Crawley teenager featured in the reserves side last season and while she has yet to make her debut for the Blues, the 18-year-old is anticipating a big year in her career to build on the strong foundations already acquired with the club.
“It’s not a bad way to go about your year off,” she said. “I’ve been training with them quite a bit already, which has been fantastic for me to be a part of their Elite Development squad.
“We’re going off to France for a tournament in the summer which will be fantastic.
“Bayern Munich are in our group which will be a great experience, they’re one of the best in the world so it’s nice to be able to play against teams like that to see what you’re capable of.
“Even just being around Chelsea gives you some fantastic opportunities; they’re one of the best teams in the country for a reason, and that’s something which is going to be a huge advantage to me as a developing player.
“It’s given me a lot of confidence and the knowledge that hard work and practice is a huge part of it.
“I haven’t quite made the first team yet, but you never know how close you could be at any time so if and when it does come I have to be ready for it.”
Like most footballers, Cross dreams of representing England seniors and she has featured as an under-19 player.
The Holy Trinity Church of England Secondary School student, currently sitting her A-Levels, has however suffered disappointment as the Lionesses missed out on a place at the 2016 UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championships in Slovakia next month.
But the youngster insists that the setback can act as motivation heading into the next year.
“Everyone wants to be a part of England’s senior squad, but you know realistically that won’t happen straight away, it requires a lot of hard work and it won’t be straightforward,” continued Cross, who benefits from being a part of the SSE Next Generation athlete.
“We’ve just got back from playing against France in a behind-closed-doors friendly; we held them to a 0-0 which was a good result at St George’s Park, then beating them on penalties.
“They’re a very good team, tough opposition who are going to the Euros so it was a good test for us.
“You want to be at these tournaments instead of just watching them, so it’s certainly something that’s going to spur us on and hopefully we can make the next one in Northern Ireland next year.”
n SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future. Keep up to date – @SSENextGen
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1) Make our website your homepage at www.crawleyobserver.co.uk
2) Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/crawleyobserver
3) Follow us on Twitter @Crawley_Obby
4) Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!
The Crawley Observer - always the first with your local news.
Be part of it.