Alice is off to Chelsea

Paddy Davitt Teenager Alice Coyne is about to swap King's Lynn for the King's Road.Chelsea-bound footballer Alice, 16, refused to let a foot injury wreck her shot at the Premiership.

Paddy Davitt

Teenager Alice Coyne is about to swap King's Lynn for the King's Road.

Chelsea-bound footballer Alice, 16, refused to let a foot injury wreck her shot at the Premiership.

The North Lynn girls' attacker has clinched a prestigious two-year academic and footballing scholarship with the Blues' Ladies after overcoming an untimely broken metatarsal injury.

“I was supposed to have a trial in mid-March but unfortunately fractured my second metatarsal the week before,” says Alice. “I still attended the trial, in plaster and on crutches, just to check out the standard and visit the school but I thought I had blown my chance of ever getting in.

“They [Chelsea] were really understanding, however, and let me re-trial when my foot was better 11 weeks later.

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“I went back with about 30 other girls, some from Fulham and Arsenal, but also girls from Ireland, Australia and Canada. I trained with the Chelsea Ladies' reserves which involved mainly playing passing football and short games. The standard was very high and they played at a much quicker tempo than I'm use to.”

Alice endured a nervous five-day wait before her dream move was confirmed by e-mail.

“I couldn't believe what I was reading,” she says. “I had to re-read it at least three or four times. I couldn't really tell if I had done enough at the trial as I was playing with the reserves who were clearly going to be more experienced anyway, but I'd felt I held my own against them.

“The Chelsea Ladies' academy has taken on 16 players. I start officially in September but there is pre-season training sometime in August. I will be up against teams within the (U19) AFA league, such as Fulham, Arsenal, West Ham and Ipswich.”

The teenager was inspired to take up the sport after watching England's men compete at Euro2000.

“I began playing for Heacham Minors under Debbie Knight and by my second season Jess Ibrom (King's Lynn community football development officer) invited me to join the scheme. I continued to play for Heacham Minors in the Fenland & District youth soccer league before moving onto North Lynn girls.

“Throughout my time with local teams I continued with the King's Lynn community football advanced player development programme playing teams such as Lincoln, Cambridge and Rushden & Diamonds. Then last season I made my debut a week after my 16th birthday for the KLFC women's team. Even since I started, the number of girls playing regular football in England has doubled to 1.1m so it has become one of the fastest growing sports.”

The Litcham HS pupil believes Norfolk's football scene offered the perfect grounding.

“I would say that the standard locally is very good,” says Alice. “My team (North Lynn girls) has competed in the Norfolk & Norwich League for the last two years and has come out on top both seasons. Nationally, I think Norfolk is a very good area to be situated within to offer support to girls' football. I've never had the problem of finding a team and have always been able to play regular football, both training and matches on a weekly basis.”

Alice is not about to rest on her laurels as she prepares to head to West London.

“I'll start within the Academy at Chelsea and hopefully progress into the reserves and eventually Chelsea Ladies,” she says. “My long term goal would be to win a scholarship to study and play in America.”

Alice Coyne Factfile

Age: 16

School: Litcham High School

Teams: Heacham Minors (2003-2007), North Lynn girls (2007-present) King's Lynn FC women (2008-present)

Position: Left wing

Favourite players: Ashley Cole, Cesc Fabregas, Rachel Yankey.

Selected highlights:

2007 and 2008 Norfolk & Norwich League Champions

2008 Norfolk & Norwich League Cup winners

Manager's player (2006/07), top goalscorer (2007/08), players' player (2007/08)

Proudest achievement: Scoring twice on my debut at The Walks for King's Lynn Girls U14 against Lincoln City Girls in front of 250 spectators.

Ambitions: In the short term to get into Chelsea Ladies' reserves and longer term to become a professional footballer and hopefully represent my country. In 2011, I would also like to be involved in the Women's Super League.