Fenland football starlet Millie Hopkisson (16) has taken a big step on the road to emulating England heroines like Steph Houghton, Fran Kirby and Laura Bassett.
Millie, who picked up 11 GCSEs from Peele Community College, Long Sutton, is into the second month of her sports science course at the College of West Anglia, King’s Lynn.
But the Leverington teenager is also taking the chance to continue in her favoured attacking midfield role for both the college football team and the Centre of Excellence jointly run by Northamptonshire FA and Peterborough United FC.
Millie said: “When I was younger, I played football with my brother Jake in our garden and then went on to play for Wisbech St Mary Girls where I scored the winning goal in a cup final.
“I then went on to play for Hampton Girls where I was an attacking midfielder because I can read the game well and show a bit of skill.
“My parents were able to take me to games, no matter how far away it was, so I’m excited about playing for the Peterborough academy team.”
Millie was at the centre of a storm over mixed football teams five years ago when she was barred from playing for March Soccer School’s under-11 side after the Football Association ruled that girls and boys had to play in separate teams after the age of 11.
At the time, Millie said: “I love playing football and I really like my team as we are all really good friends.
“It’s unfair that I can’t play with them any more because I am a girl.”
But the teenager, who supports Premier League leaders Manchester City, bounced back in 2014 as part of the Hampton Girls under-16 side that completed an S-Tech Cambridgeshire League and League Cup double.
I love playing football and I’d like to see how far I can make it as a playerMillie Hopkisson (16) of Leverington
Millie’s manager at the time Steve Purnell said: “Millie is an exceptional player, with great vision, and she always gives everything in every game.
“I fully believe she can make it all the way to the England squad in the next few seasons.”
Hampton dedicated a match to Millie while on tour in Norway at The Norway Cup - Memories for Life tournament last summer, thought to be the largest event of its kind in the world with more than 1,400 teams taking part.
Millie said: “I played in an international team with boys and girls from different countries and one of the matches was against Aston Villa.
“We got to the semi-finals and in our last match, the girls called it the Millie Hopkisson Testimonial as it was my last game for Hampton.
“After the match, the girls gave me a club pennant with good luck messages written on it and the Icelandic team also signed it.”
Millie combined her football progress with netball as part of Peele Community College’s under-11 netball team and her head of house, Theresa Earl, said: “Millie is an amazing and extremely talented young lady who has a passion to succeed and the drive to get to where she wants to go.”
Jodie Hopkisson, Millie mum, added: “Millie enjoyed her time at the Peele because it’s a small school and she was very good at managing her time, with good support from her family.
“Last year, we made the difficult decision of sending her to the Lincoln Girls’ Centre of Excellence but she knew what it involved and it was something that she wanted to do.
“Millie wanted to have that experience of carrying on with her football in a better girls’ team than Hampton was and it was a natural progression for her after seeing her brother Jake try out for Norwich City’s Centre of Excellence.
“My daughter has the personality to do what she’s doing, although she’s very modest and doesn’t like to be in the limelight.”
After her sports science course, Millie has her sights set on following players such as Lianne Sanderson, Jodie Taylor and Alex Scott by joining the National Women’s Soccer League in the USA and eventually emulate former Chelsea club doctor Eva Carneiro by becoming a sports physio.
Millie said: “I’d like to see how far I can make it as a player so I’m just going to try to do my best.”