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Silsden footballer Beth earns Arsenal chance
A Silsden teenager has won a shot at the big time after gaining a place on Arsenal Ladies’ elite education programme.
Beth Millgate, aged 17, beat off stiff competition from across the country and abroad to secure a coveted spot at the club who have dominated the women’s game over the last decade.
Having overcome a serious knee injury, sustained when she was 15, the former South Craven School pupil is now bidding to break into the professional game with Arsenal and fulfil her ambition of playing for Great Britain.
Beth said: “I’ve been playing for Leeds United (under-17s) and wasn’t sure if they would be running a reserves side, so I went for trials at Arsenal and Chelsea.”
She came through three trials at Arsenal, featuring hundreds of hopefuls including overseas players, to secure one of just eight places.
“I was shocked when I found out I’d got in,” admitted Beth, who first starting playing for Silsden junior boys at the age of six.
“I cried after I’d left Arsenal as I didn’t think I’d made it. Then to find out I had was amazing. I started crying again!”
Beth will move down south later this month to begin her two-year spell on the elite education programme, which has taken over the role previously played by Arsenal Ladies Academy.
It will see her combine regular training – including the chance to train at the men’s prestigious London Colney base – and matches with academic studies at Oaklands College in Hertford-shire, where she plans to take an A-level in sports science.
Beth is relishing the opportunity to make it at the club who have won 12 Premier League titles, ten National League Cups and ten FA Cups. But, less than three years ago, such ambitions looked in jeopardy after she tore knee ligaments in freak circumstances while sledging.
She said: “I was on crutches for half a year but I was determined I would get back playing again.”
The versatile midfielder – who was introduced to the game by her parents, Peter and Kirsty, and who admits she was kicking a football before she could walk – has played for Blackburn and Bradford City at various age groups, as well as Leeds United.
Now she has her sights set on the Premier League with Arsenal and perhaps even Rio with Great Britiain.
She said: “My ambition is hopefully to make the Olympic team in four years. You have to aspire to be successful.”
Beth was delighted with the way London 2012 gave the women’s game a big rise in profile.
She said: “Women’s football is developing year on year. It was so big in the Olympics and attracted so many new fans. Men were coming to watch GB play and thinking: ‘Maybe women can play!”
Beth is hoping to find a sponsor to help her cover accommodation and course fees. She can be contacted at email@example.com.