Features. Boddy: 'I want to play in the Women's Super League and I want to become an England Lioness'

Elysia Boddy
01 May 24

For many females, having to play for a boys' team could be seen as a deterrent to getting into football, but Elysia Boddy believes that is what's shaped her into the well-rounded midfielder she is today.

Having already played in the top three divisions of women's football, it would perhaps be easy for Boddy to take things slowly given she is only 20 years old, but her ambitious targets and tunnel vision mean that couldn't be further from the truth.

Boddy has now won back-to-back league titles in her young career following Newcastle United Women's recent FA Women's National League Northern Premier Division championship success but there's no chance of her easing up, as she revealed when talking to newcastleunited.com about some of her personal aims heading forward.

"My career goals are very straight to the point; I want to play in the Women's Super League and Champions League and I want to become an England Lioness, something I think I can achieve here," she said.

Growing up in Middlesbrough, Boddy was part of a sporting family and sibling rivalry with her older brother, Jake, led to her looking to turn her hand to anything she could - and that included football.

"From as little as I can remember I always wanted to be a professional footballer and I never had my eyes set on anything else or even had a back-up plan," Boddy explained.

"I was about four years old when I went to watch my brother play in a Saturday soccer school and I just started joining in - even though I wasn't supposed to - and I've just been playing ever since then.

"My dad reminds me pretty much every day that the boys were probably more scared of me than I was of them. When I was growing up I hated watching football because I just wanted to play it all the time and it used to really annoy me.

"If my brother was playing a sport, then so was I because I always had to be better than him, and he'd probably agree with that too.

"Between the ages of ten to 12, I was boxing and I actually had a competitive fight that I did lose, although I don't think I should have because of some decision-making."

It's been a meteoric rise up the footballing pyramid for Boddy, now a two-time league champion England youth international and a regular for Newcastle United Women, and it's safe to say she's come a long way from those Saturday soccer school sessions.

Everything moved so fast for Boddy that she counted on her mother to help navigate a crucial part of her career as the England youth international secured a move to WSL side Leicester City Women, where she was able to make her mark in the game after starting out with Middlesbrough Women.

"It was quite nerve-wracking (signing for Leicester) because I'd only ever experienced tier-three football and training on a Tuesday and Thursday night," Boddy admitted.

"I just love playing football so for me to be able to train every day was a dream come true. It was a very exciting time but I didn't have an agent at the time.

"My mam was looking for a club for me to go to that had more experience at full time and thankfully, Leicester got in touch and were interested in me coming down."

Not too long after putting pen to paper on that contract, Boddy was unexpectedly thrust into the deep end with the Foxes when Lydia Bedford turned to the bench and called upon the young midfielder.

"I was so excited but I didn't actually expect to make my WSL debut," she added. "I wasn't expecting to get any sort of minutes but when the manager called me down and said I'd be going on at the end of the game I was buzzing."

Making her WSL debut could be considered the pinnacle of a player's career when still so young, but Boddy has also played and scored for her country.

Her debut for the England under-19s came against Finland and also coincided with her netting a second-half strike, something that will live long in the memory.

"I was an England under-18s player and I got the call to say I'd be going with the under-19s," United's number 22 said. "I remember I got 45 minutes in the second half against Finland and when I saw the ball hit the back of the net I was over the moon."

It's not all been a constant upward trajectory for Boddy, though; the midfielder suffered an injury setback earlier in the season which forced her to miss eight matches.

She was playing through the pain during large parts of the first half of the campaign but after turning out in the Women's FA Cup clash against Manchester United Women in January, Boddy listened to her body - something she admits she will do more of in future.

"I probably should have recognised that I went from not playing many minutes to then playing a huge amount in a short space of time," she said.

"So working with the strength and conditioning coaches and physios, I've been able to understand my body properly.

"I think some people do forget that when I did get injured I was only 19 and it was my first season of playing week-in, week-out.

"Despite the injury, it's been amazing and a big thank you to the coaching staff who've believed in me and let me express myself from day one, because I believe that's when I play my best football."

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