Kaitlyn Clark, has been called up to play for England’s first international women’s blind football team! The newly-made Para-Lion impressed at club level which earned her a place in the inaugural squad.
Kaitlyn plays her club football in Hampshire for Hamble Club Youth in the Eastleigh FC In The Community Pan Disability Football League and regularly trains at Hampshire FA’s hub site, Stoneham Lane Football Complex.
Clark was delighted to be able to make her debut for England at the first ever European Women’s Blind Football Championship, hosted in Italy. The team did remarkably well, finishing in second place and bringing home the silver medal, as well as representing the country with impeccable discipline, which saw them also receive the Fair Play Award for the tournament.
The Para-Lions held their first training camp at St Georges park before the tournament and players have received world class coaching and support services to aid their development, all under the fantastic management of Head Coach, Laura Asquith. Kaitlyn explained: “It happened really quickly so it was confusing at first, you’re suddenly in the kit and then you realise you’re an England player now.”
Kaitlyn has become an inspiration to fellow blind footballers across the county. She told us: “Everyone that has an interest in football and is blind or visually impaired shouldn’t close off the doors to playing football because there’s no pathway out there when there is, it’s just slightly hidden.”
Kaitlyn is already diving head first into the responsibilities of being a role model, joining Hampshire FA at the UEFA Women’s EURO Roadshow in June. Kaitlyn was on-hand to support the delivery of a blind football taster session with boys and girls. She also had a penalty shoot-out win against England Blind Football legend Darren Harris! Kaitlyn and Darren also both spoke on stage about their experiences playing for England in an interview with Kenzie Benali; sharing their success stories to inspire the next generation.
Since then Kaitlyn has been invited to support with local Beavers and Brownies groups and hopes to take some coaching qualifications.
Hampshire FA wishes Kaitlyn and her teammates the very best of luck as they embark on this new journey. Hampshire FA’s Senior Manager at Stoneham Lane Football Complex, Matt Meadus, said: “Everyone here is extremely proud of Kaitlyn and what she has achieved. It’s been amazing to see her passion and dedication to the game, training here over the past couple of years. This call up is fully-deserved. We’re all rooting for her at this exciting time and wish her the best of luck for what we’re sure will be a very successful England career.
“We’re lucky to be able to provide all of our facility users here at Stoneham Lane Football Complex with truly outstanding facilities and we hope that this can continue to play a small part in many more journeys like Kaitlyn’s in the future.”
Find Out More About Kaitlyn’s Journey - https://www.englandfootball.com/articles/2022/May/26/kaitlyn-clark-england-womens-blind-team-interview-feature-20222605
Find Out More About Stoneham Lane Football Complex - https://www.hampshirefa.com/about/facilities/stoneham-lane-football-complex