England call for Arsenal youngster
- Credit: Archant
Arsenal youngster Jess Ngunga was enthralled by England Women’s performance at the Euro finals this summer – and is now one step closer to joining them.
The 16-year-old recently discovered she had been selected for England under-19s, climbing another rung on the ladder after a successful summer with the under-17 team.
Ngunga and England team-mate Emily Syme were taken to watch the senior team take on Scotland in Holland by the SSE Next Generation programme, a scheme which offers funding to the sporting stars of the future.
Like so many others Ngunga, who plays for Arsenal Reserves, was inspired by what she saw, making it all the more special when she was invited to return to the England set-up again this season.
“It was good to go and watch the senior team in Holland, it was good to look up to the older England squad,” said Ngunga, who is studying for a level 2 coaching qualification at Barnet and Southgate College.
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“We got to watch how they prepare and compared it to how we prepare.
“It was great getting selected for England again because under-18s and under-19s are mixed together and there are a lot of people in those age groups.
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“Throughout the year, England training depends on if there is an event like the Euros or World Cup, but I had three days of training (September 13-16).
“I was ready, because I’d already done some pre-season training with Arsenal.
“I haven’t had much time for a break this summer, but I don’t mind because I’ve got used to going into the club whenever I have holidays anyway.”
Ngunga’s selection is no surprise given the part she played in the England under-17s reaching the finals of the European Championships in May.
England topped their group to make it to the finals, where they played three more teams in a round-robin, and the striker admitted it was a steep learning curve.
“We were all quite devastated at the Euros, because we got so far and we were the underdogs because we hadn’t really been in competition before,” she added.
“We came fifth because we lost to Norway and Holland, but no one really expected England to get that far.
“It was my first big competition, so it was a good experience playing against the best teams.
“At England, I’m one of the youngest, so I can look up to the other players and see how I can be in a few years.
“They’re all quite big, strong and quick, but I played in all the games, which was good.”
*Since 2013, SSE is proud to make a difference to young people, their families and their communities, by investing in the future of sporting talent through the SSE Next Generation scheme. Keep up to date @YourSSE.