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Women’s National Team Camp Preview

Writes: Sam Seddon-Davies

The England Women's national team return to Reaseheath College this weekend for their first camp of the year.

Saturday 17 February will see the squad come together for another day of training as they gear up for the International Women's Training Camp at the start of March.

But before they head to Belgium, the women will hone their skills at the home of amputee football for just the second time.

The team continues to operate through a period of transition with a number of new players and staff joining the programme.

One recruit joining the team on the pitch is Stacey Quirk.

The 37-year-old first crossed paths with EAFA seven years ago, when she was the only woman playing amputee football in the country at the time.

Her brief history with West Bromwich Albion and Peterborough United didn’t quite go to plan after a knock during a game swayed her enthusiasm.

But Quirk is hopeful that her reintroduction to the sport will be smoother sailing.

“It seems a lot has changed since I had a bit of a go in 2017, so I’m a bit nervous but also excited to see the steps and the progress that has been made since I’ve been away,” she said.

“All the guys then were well-established athletes and players, and it was very difficult to be a newcomer in the sport. 

"I’ve seen there are several women playing today which is great. It feels like now I’ve got a better opportunity to develop.”

Originally from Manchester but residing in Bedfordshire, Quirk served in the army for 11 years before getting her right leg amputated.

Since then, she has represented Team GB in para-volleyball and para-ice hockey for over 10 years.

But football has been one of Quirk’s main passions throughout her life, despite the tough relationship she has had with it.

“Football was my life before my injury,” she added. 

“For a long time, I had to stop watching football, I couldn’t have any involvement with the game. I stopped talking about it because it was too painful to accept the reality that I was never going to play again. 

“I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been involved in international sport and playing at a high level. I recently retired from para-volleyball and I realised I’m getting old, so if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.

“I was playing for 15 years before I got injured so I’d like to think I’ve still got some of it there.”

With the previously mentioned International Women’s Training Camp and the inaugural Women’s Amputee World Cup on the horizon, Quirk is ready to get stuck in again.

Armed with new goals and a new mindset, she has already been getting integrated into the team and is raring to go.

“With my experiences over time, I’ve grown in confidence and leadership skills, I have motivation in buckets and I know what it takes to achieve,” Quirk continued.

“Last time I was disheartened very quickly about my ability to go from able-bodied sport to amputee football and I let my head go down too quickly.

“After I met people in an online meeting, it was easier to feel like I could reach out to them. Shelbee Clarke was the first person I contacted and she showed a lot of willingness to have a kickabout with no expectations, just casual and fun, I think that made it easier. The conversation just flowed very nicely and it felt like I’d known these people for ages, there was no awkwardness. 

“Since that call, I’ve been out on my crutches which is something I wouldn’t normally do - I’m always seen with my prosthetic.

“I want to immerse myself in the sport this time and see where it takes me.”

You will be able to see Stacey Quirk, the recruits and the returning players this weekend by following the action across our social media channels.


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