Gillingham Ladies loanee Fliss Gibbons arrived back from England U23s Training Camp just in time for Gillingham’s 1-1 draw against West Ham. We caught up with Fliss after the match to hear all about her week with the national side.
Fliss explained to us: “I’ve moved up to the under 23s level in the England set up from Under 19s . I got an email from the FA about a month ago to say I’d been selected for the training camp up at Warwick University. There were 24 of us there and I was really proud when I found out as I did not expect to jump up to the 23s.”
Many Gills Ladies fans will be surprised to find out that the bright forward actually plays another role in the England set up: “When I’m away with England they play me as a left back. I went to my first camp two years ago and I started at right midfield and then they put me back and they’ve liked me as a left back ever since.”
“I like being able to see the whole game as a left back but I think I can sometimes make more of an impact in attack as it’s nice to be in and around the box. I like them both to be honest.”
The national camps certainly set to test some of the country’s best players. A hectic schedule awaited Fliss when she arrived at Warwick: “We got there on Wednesday at 12, trained Wednesday afternoon. Then we trained in the morning and afternoon on Thursday and player Friday morning with the afternoon off.”
“It’s always hard at camp,” Fliss concluded (certainly sounds like it!)
“Whenever I play at England the pace of play is so much quicker. The step up from the 19s to the 23s is even quicker as you’re playing with girls who are 23 so the experience they have is clear. But it is always good as I learn something new. I always want to come away from a camp knowing something I did not know before.”
“A lot of time at camp was spent working on pressurising play. I think the lesson I learnt was about using my strengh more. As a centre forward I have to do that quite a lot, I have to use my body to play the ball. I can hopefully put the lessons I’ve taken away into practice for Gillingham Ladies.”
And whilst the lessons on the pitch help Fliss develop, she also highlighted other benefits: “Psychologically, getting selected is a nice boost as your selection to the England camp means you must be doing something right. I don’t read the game very well naturally, so for me to go away and spend that time focusing on play is great.”
“When we go to camp, we are not just on the training ground, we are in the classroom and there’s lots of thinking going on. It helps me understand things more and read the game better. It develops your football intelligence too and I enjoy that. In the long run too I’ll be a fitter and more physical player.”
Having enjoyed representing her country at Under 19s and now Under 23s, the aspirations for the future are set high for Fliss: “We’re always encouraged when we’re away with England to look up to the senior team: our aim should be to replace the girl playing in our position for the national team.”
“For me, I play football because I enjoy it, I do not really have a role model. I just want to keep working to improve myself. My motivation is to work to improve myself and become a better player. As long as I’m better than the player I was last week then I’m learning, so I’m happy.”
And is life at Gills making Fliss happy?
“I love Gills Ladies” Fliss instantly replies, “even more now than at the start when I had my first impressions. The girls have helped me fit in so quickly, and I’m so close to them – I’ve only known them for two months and it’s going to be hard to leave them.”
“I’ve got so much respect for the James Marrs and Jack Wheeler as they know their stuff, and they’re helping me so much week in week out. It’s a great club; it’s going in the right direction, the girls have the right attitudes, the managers have a good partnership – I love being here!”
Want to sponsor Fliss Gibbons or any other Gillingham Ladies player for just £40? Click here to find out more.