Haslingden High student selected for England U15 football team


BUDDING Lioness Ocean Flanagan has been selected for a place in the England U15 team – after three grueling trials.

Ocean, 14, a student at Haslingden High School, has been playing football since she was six, initially at Haslingden Girls, and has played in school teams since year 4 at Helmshore Primary School and all through high school.

Last season, the Centre Midfielder, who also plays Centre Defence, was in the school’s team U15 and U14 teams that both got through to the quarter final of the English Schools Football Association PlayStation Schools’ Cup.

She also captained the school’s U14 team which won the Lancashire Cup.

Lioness Kiera Walsh, who helped England to win the Euros, also attended Haslingden High School.

Ocean, from Rawtenstall, said: “I went for the first trial for the England U15s team at Cockerham Park, Newcastle, in October when it was the North East V North West.

“Then I went back to Newcastle in Mid-November for North V Midlands and there were England Scouts watching that game.

“The last trial should have been on December 13, but it was cancelled because of snow which was lucky for me because I couldn’t have taken part, I was injured with soft tissue damage to my ankle and I was ill.

“They rearranged it to January 15 at Shrewsbury Sports Village and it was North V South. The North team won 3-1 and we played three 30 minutes.

“I played the first 30 minutes, was off for the second one and then back on again for the first 15 minutes of the last 30.

“When I got subbed off, I thought I had had it. Every girl was as good as each other and it was probably the best standard of girls’ football I have every played in.

“There were 48 girls playing that day and there were only 18 places on the England team.

“We left and went back home, then on the Monday evening at 6pm it came on Instagram that I was on the team; I started crying.”

Her mum Emma, who drives Ocean everywhere to play football, gave her a huge hug and her dad Anthony, who used to be a semi-professional footballer and supports her at every match, was delighted.

Ocean said: “It came as a shock to us all, I didn’t think I was going to get in.”

In February, she will be presented with her England shirt when she goes on a three-day camp in Staffordshire at St George’s Park – the England training ground.

Then in April she will join her teammates for a week-long football tournament in Glasgow.

After Haslingden Girls, she moved to Padiham Girls, which folded, so she spent three years at Blackburn Rovers but found it too pressured.

She currently plays and trains with Bury and Accrington Stanley, represents Lancashire, was invited by Manchester United to join the indoor Futsal team and now trains with them at their Emerging Training Centre and the Regional Training Centre.

Ocean said: “I am either training or playing in matches every day, the only day I have off is a Tuesday.

“I have met Georgia Stanway [England Midfielder] because she started with Blackburn Rovers and she came to talk to us and was really good; she made me realise that this is what I wanted to do.

“I watched the Euros at home. Georgia played for the England U15 team too and I am following her pathway. I hope to get to the England Squad and help the Lionesses to win the World Cup.”