Footballer Hollie aims high with Brighton and England

Hollie Olding in action for Brighton at the Amex / Picture by Paul Hazlewood, BHAFC
Hollie Olding in action for Brighton at the Amex / Picture by Paul Hazlewood, BHAFC

Hollie Olding has a big future ahead of her after making her senior debut for Brighton at the age of 16 and playing frequently for England under-17s.

The youngster from Chichester made her senior debut for the senior Seagulls side last month as a substitute in a 2-1 win away to Cardiff.

Not only has she featured in a Brighton side who have won more than half their games this season, she has also received another England under-17s call-up, for a friendly tournament involving Germany and France which will prepare them for the Euros next year.

Hollie is looking forward to the up-coming tournament, which will take place in Germany, and she sees it as a good test in the build-up to the Euro Finals in Belarus next May.

“It means a lot because it is your country and for me it is the biggest achievement,” said Olding. “I can’t go any further than being called up for my country at my age group, so it means a lot and it just makes me want to work harder.

“I am really looking forward to it, but it will be our hardest test this year and Germany are world leading at 17s, 19s and senior level, so it will be such a good test and we are preparing well for it.

With England I want to progress through the age group and hopefully one day get my senior call-up.

“France will be a massive game but the Germany game is first and we will look towards France once that is out of the way.

“It’s good to know we are competing against one of the best teams, We played them in November and they beat us 3-1, we are now learning from it and we know their tactics, so we are more prepared.

“It is great preparation, I think that is why our manager has done it – to prepare us for the hardest opponents, which is good.”

Olding also was part of the under-17s squad who qualified for Belarus in 2016 and in their three qualifying matches, they beat Croatia and Estonia and drew 2-2 against a much more competitive Poland side last October.

In the qualifiers, the Chichester High School for Girls student scored on her debut against Estonia.

“The qualifiers were an amazing experience, but that is done now and the teams we will be playing against will be much harder and quicker, so that was great at the time,” she said.

“Our draw with Poland was disappointing, especially as both their goals were set-pieces, but we will move on from that,” she added.

“I love travelling travelling with my team, it is amazing – we are like a family, so it is good.”

Olding featured in a pre-season match with the senior Brighton Ladies squad but made her official debut and she believes the taste of first-team football and motivated her even more.

“My first ‘debut’ was in pre-season, but to go to Cardiff, who are one of the strongest teams in the league, and play was amazing.

“I got 20 minutes, but it was just great because the manager, James (Marrs), believes in me and feels that I could be in the first team when I am older.

“I only had 20 minutes, but that 20 minutes was enough to want to be involved every week. But the competition that I have as a midfielder is unreal, so I know there is a lot of hard work to do, but I am really competitive.

“Brighton players are really welcoming, but it is hard as I am used to hanging out with my friends who are my own age and these are fully-grown women, but they are really nice.

“I did feel timid at first but as we stayed overnight and spending a night away from your usual place makes you bond more.”

Olding aims to go to the very top and has set her sights on future success with Brighton and England.

She added: “I want to be playing in the first team with Brighton, in the Women’s Super League, which is the highest league women can play in, and I want to carry on playing for Brighton - I love them and it is my home.

“With England I want to progress through the age group and hopefully one day get my senior call-up.”

GEORGE BOULTON

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