FOOTBALL: Tegan’s talent can turn her dreams into reality

Tegan Wheeler at the Sir Halley Stewart Field. Photos by Tim Wilson
Tegan Wheeler at the Sir Halley Stewart Field. Photos by Tim Wilson
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Spalding United under-18 girls captain Tegan Wheeler is ready to keep working hard towards her goals.

The attacking midfielder is hoping to make the final selection in the Wales under-19 squad for the European Championship qualifiers in Kazakhstan which will also feature group games against England and Slovenia in October.

Ultimately, Tegan dreams of playing in America – but she has already shown her talent with an international call-up alongside academy players from bigger clubs.

The 17-year-old said: “My dad saw details of the open trial online and talked to me about going to play for Wales.

“I thought it would be a good experience to see what the standard is like and I didn’t expect to be picked.

“I spent a couple of days at the trial in Wales in October and it was great to work with UEFA ‘A’ coaches.

Tegan Wheeler at Everybodys Gym with Simon Harvey.

Tegan Wheeler at Everybodys Gym with Simon Harvey.

“We had six-a-side games and I was selected for the third session which had 11-a-side.

“We were told we would get an email two weeks later if we can been selected in the squad.

“I went out for a meal on the Friday night and I hadn’t seen anything. To be honest, though, I wasn’t too disappointed.

“I had already accepted that I wasn’t in the squad and I would need to work harder next time.

Ultimately, I want to go to university in America on a football scholarship because women’s soccer over there is so much bigger than in the UK.

Tegan Wheeler

“But I was working that weekend and when I got home there was an email saying ‘congratulations, you have been selected for the national squad’.

“I couldn’t believe it! I was screaming and crying in front of my two sisters and brother.

“Because we live so far away from Wales, I go to a hotel for the training camps every couple of months.

“We have four-hour training sessions and team building exercises.

Tegan Wheeler

Tegan Wheeler

“I need to prove myself at each camp because the squad will come down to 15 outfield players.

“At the moment, there are 29 other girls so I need to work hard at the camps as well as play well for my club and keep up a training programme.

“I started playing football in Year 9 at Gleed School. I joined Spalding under-15s so this is only my third season of competitive games.

“As under-18s, we went into the new Lincolnshire Girls League and it has been a lot better than last season with much closer games.

“I appreciate the support of my team-mates at Spalding as well.

“Ultimately, I want to go to university in America on a football scholarship because women’s soccer over there is so much bigger than in the UK.

Spalding United under-18 girls captain Tegan Wheeler

Spalding United under-18 girls captain Tegan Wheeler

“I don’t play football for the money but I’d also like to get involved in coaching for more understanding of the game.

“I’ve still got one more year at school but I’d love to play for an American college team. I’m working towards that dream of going over there.”

Tegan has also attracted interest from a couple of top English clubs with the prospect of joining their development squad. She has already played for Lincolnshire’s under-16 girls team.

Her international call-up with the Wales FA has taken Tegan into a squad which also features academy players from clubs such as Cardiff City, Liverpool, Swansea City, Bristol and Brighton.

They regularly play 11-a-side games but at Spalding, she has nine-a-side matches.

A club spokesman said: “It’s a phenomenal testament to her talent and determination that a player from a grassroots club in only her third competitive season has been selected in an international squad.

“We hope this will be an inspiration to all girls and boys that their goals can be achieved if they are prepared to work hard for them.”

Tegan has a sponsorship deal with Everybody’s Gym in Spalding.

Club owner Simon Harvey said: “We will be in touch with her skills coach to decide on any needs for improvement in her fitness.

“We will put a plan in place with a recipe of sports-related exercises. We’ve assigned our trainer Shaun Downie to give extra support and apply her exercises accordingly.”