THE FA Women’s Super League season may have drawn to a close, but for young Stratford footballer Mollie Rouse that does not mean the action has to stop.
The 17-year-old, who plays for WSL 2 side Aston Villa, will join up with the England U19s squad for a training camp in the coming weeks, alongside playing for her club’s academy side to keep her fitness in tip-top condition.
It has been a promising season for the Alcester Grammar School student, in which the team has progressed both on and off the field.
Villa finished their season in style with a 4-0 victory over Watford as they contested their first ever WSL 2 match at Villa Park and Rouse is confident their performances this year are the start of something great for the club.
“Where we finished in the table at the end of the season, we shouldn’t be there, but I think it has been a season of progress for the club,” said Rouse, who benefits from being part of the SSE Next Generation programme.
“We’ve gained more experience and support from the whole set-up. Each week, we have strength and conditioning sessions now which is a big step up, we’ve never had anything like that before, and although we finished mid-table we know we can do better than that.
“We know that if we keep up our hard work in the new facilities that we have, then next season can be better.
“The Watford game was a great one to finish on, not only because we were playing at Villa Park on an amazing pitch, but also because we had an amazing crowd, so that really added to the atmosphere.
“Playing at Villa Park was a brilliant experience. Just walking into the stadium and on to the pitch for the first time through the tunnel was amazing and, because it was Villa everywhere, it made us feel part of the wider club.
“It shows a massive step up in the women’s game that we are able to use pitches like Villa Park and getting that kind of fanbase in is fantastic.”
The 2016 campaign was Rouse’s second of first team football at the club, having risen through the ranks of their academy.
It has proven to be a big learning curve for the youngster, but is an opportunity she continues to relish.
“For me personally, it’s been a big step up from the previous season,” she said.
“This season, I’ve been with the first team since the very start whereas last season I was younger and I just came in towards the end of the campaign, so it has been nice to be involved the whole way through this time.
“It’s been good to be playing and in the team each week, it’s been a great experience for me.
“I’ve definitely developed as a player. I think playing ladies’ football really does help you improve as, even as a youngster, you step up your game for the occasion and you’re playing against really good sides.”
In October, Rouse was part of the England U19s side which defeated powerhouses USA, hosts Northern Ireland and France to become Women’s International Cup winners.
SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future. Keep up to date with the latest on Twitter @SSENextGen.