Playing centre back against Hastings United Women.  Photo: Neil Holmes

How was lockdown for you?

My time over lockdown post-Christmas was spent at my shared student accommodation in Chichester. By the end of January I had started the second semester of my Masters, so I was kept quite busy with online lectures and completing assignments. I did really struggle not being able to play football for such a long period of time, especially with the stress of university, playing football allows me to switch off from that.

I am very lucky to live with housemates that love sport as much as me, so I often did home workouts with them or went for runs to stay active. I’m so happy the season was able to resume, I feel like we were just getting into our stride before the lockdown after Christmas was announced.

When did you start playing football?

I first became interested in football when I was 7 years old when I would join in with the boys when they were playing during break times at school. It wasn’t long before I joined the school team and just fell in love with it. Football is a big part of my family, especially my Dad’s as he lives and breathes it! So he was more than happy to run me around taking me to training and matches.

My weekends when I was younger would consist of playing for the Saturday team I was part of, coming home and watching football on TV for the rest of the day, then go and play for my Sunday team the next day and come home to watch more football! I think my Dad being so passionate about the game definitely spurred me on to play more and being a coach himself and having the knowledge he does of the game really helped develop me as a player.

The first team I joined to play competitive football was St. Francis FC when I was 11, however after playing for a couple of seasons unfortunately the team folded. I then joined Winchester City Flyers when I was 13 to play Saturday league football and after playing there for a couple of years was asked to play for the Ladies 1st Team on a Sunday. I was still playing for the school team as well and when I was 14 I was selected to represent Hampshire Schools up until the age of 16.

I continued playing on a Saturday all the way up to U18’s and when that stopped I was just playing for the Ladies 1st team who had just been promoted to the Southern Region Premier Division. However, at the age of 20 I decided to take a break from Sunday league football to focus on other commitments.

Payton scoring against Goring.  Photo: Neil Holmes

What do you think is your best position?

When I first started playing football my position was left wing, however during my time playing for Winchester I filled in at left back one game for someone and actually ended up playing there for the rest of the season. After that I was moved to centre back and ended up playing there for about 3 years. But playing as a striker is definitely my favourite position, I feel like my strongest attribute as a player is driving with the ball at the opposition, which obviously you don’t get to do as much when you’re playing centre half.

Putting in a cross against Eastbourne Town in the FA Cup. Photo: Neil Holmes

What subject did you study at Uni?

I started my undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Chichester when I was 18. I have always had a love for sport so choosing this course at university was a no-brainer for me really. I finished my degree with a 2:1 allowing me to go on to study a postgraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology that I started last month. During my 3 years at university I played for the Women’s 1st team.

I also got the chance to play with some great players past and present who I was able to learn a lot from.

Payton in action against Roffey Women Photo: Neil Holmes

How did you become involved with CCFC Women?

After not playing Sunday league football for a couple of years I was eager to get playing again. I already knew Connor as he had coached me for the University 1st team, and when he told me about the new set up at the club I was buzzing to join.

The team of coaches put in so much effort to deliver high-quality training sessions and all the girls are so enthusiastic, it’s great to be a part of. I already knew quite a few of the girls as most of us had already played together at university, so we were familiar with how each other played.

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