Youth sport - Football: Talented LeAF duo are bound for the USA

Bournemouth Echo: CHICAGO DATE: Sacha Paynter and Ellie Charlton CHICAGO DATE: Sacha Paynter and Ellie Charlton

TWO teenage female football sensations will soon be swapping pitch-side for State-side when they travel to the US for top-level coaching.

The girls – both students at Bournemouth’s LeAF Studio for elite young sportsmen and women – are joining top level soccer team Eclipse in Chicago for a 12-day coaching session.

Sacha Paynter, 18, and Ellie Charlton, 17 will be pitting their skills amongst the best young female players in the world.

Women’s football is one of the biggest growing sports in the USA, which is becoming world-renowned for producing the best female footballers.

Now centre-forward Sacha and centre-back Ellie will get to play amongst some of the best when they join Eclipse in April.

Their trip has been made possible thanks to LeAF’s head football coach Gary Bennett – who himself has previously coached the likes of England and Southampton stars Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse.

Gary said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for Sacha and Ellie, who not only have the talent but also the determination and hard work ethic needed to succeed.

“As well as playing with some of the best young women footballers in the US, this trip will also introduce them to coaches at universities where scholarships in soccer are available.”

Sacha and Ellie have played football together for more than nine years – at Poole Town and also at county level.

Their talent led them to joining the LeAF Studio where 14 to 19 year-olds can combine their everyday education with coaching from some of the country’s best sports coaches.

And last autumn their skills also led them to spending three days with the England women’s team.

Now both girls are determined to make it as football stars, with the ultimate aim of one day playing for England.

Ellie, who now plays for New Forest Ladies and lives in Poole, said: “I am so looking forward to the experience of playing football in America.

“We’ll be able to gauge what our levels are in comparison to women footballers who are playing at the very top level.”

Sacha, also from Poole, added: “I’ve experienced playing football with boys when growing up and now play for Poole Town Ladies. I have also played at county level with Dorset and Hampshire – now this trip to America will give me a taste of playing at international level.

“It will be a great opportunity to compare ourselves at this level and see what we need to do to move on even further.”

The girls will fly out to Chicago on April 26 and will be accompanied by their coach Gary and sports therapist Jess Grimson.

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