Lydia Vettese makes Maidenhead United history

Lydia Vettese. Photo: Darren Woolley.
Lydia Vettese. Photo: Darren Woolley.

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A piece of Maidenhead United history was made recently during the Maidenhead United Women’s FA Women’s National League match at Swindon Town.  In the 64th minute of the game played at Fairford Town FC on Thursday 27th October, teenager Lydia Vettese made her Magpies debut.  Lydia is the sixth teenager to play for Ed Jackson-Sankey’s side this season and the first ever to graduate to the MUWFC First Team from the MUFC Academy Women’s section.

Magpies fans have enjoyed watching the likes of Max Kilman and Josh Kelly progress through the Maidenhead United youth set up onto big-money moves in recent years and Alan Devonshire’s match-day squad in the National League regularly includes the likes of Berkshire-born Reece Smith and Bradley Keetch who have been with the club since they were teenagers.  Lydia is now following in the footsteps of Max, Josh, Reece and Brad into senior football and explains: “I got into football through my dad. He loves football.  I would spend hours in the garden kicking a ball around and playing with him.”

Lydia – who attended Maiden Erlegh school in Earley – began her footballing journey with local Reading-based sides, initially with Laurel Park FC, from whom new teammate Ashlee Withers has recently joined United.  “I had to play a year up as there wasn’t an age group for me, but I really enjoyed it” Lydia recalls. “We had one team who were our rivals and that was Tilehurst Panthers. They would beat us every single time, so my parents wanted me to progress myself and play for them!  It was one of the best decisions I made. I played for Tilehurst Panthers for 7 or 8 years, which was just the best. We became national champions at the Aces tournament, we progressed to the Surrey County League so that we could push ourselves as a team and we had some great seasons there.” 

Lydia Vettese. Photo: Darren Woolley.
Lydia Vettese. Photo: Darren Woolley.

“From school I went to BCA (Berkshire College of Agriculture) and I am in my third and final year there studying Sports Coaching and Development.  My coaches and teachers wanted me to go down to Maidenhead United and push myself to play at that higher standard. Leaving Tilehurst was one of the hardest decisions.  The team was the best, the coaches were amazing and they all wanted us to do so well, although I knew that I had to give Maidenhead a go. I’m looking forward to this season and progressing as a player and just take in the opportunity that I have to play with such talented players and with amazing coaches and staff around us, always being positive and looking for where we can improve together as a team.”

Liverpool-supporting Lydia – “I never really had a choice in what team I could support, because my dad is a very big Liverpool fan” – is living proof of the fact that some individuals do not necessarily flourish in the main-stream secondary school environment and she admits that “Moving to BCA has improved me as a person in many ways, and I look forward to going in to college to learn but to also play football alongside it.”

And the BCA think just as highly of her as she does of them.  Her Coach at the college George Lock is thrilled as to Lydia’s progress and commented: “It’s fantastic to see Lydia making her first team and National League debut whilst becoming the first graduate from the women’s academy. She is a talented footballer and we are excited to see her kick on at the senior level.  It’s great to see the pathway is working and we hope Lydia is the first of many to make this step.”

Lydia Vettese. Photo: Darren Woolley.
Lydia Vettese. Photo: Darren Woolley.

MUWFC manager Ed Jackson-Sankey is delighted to have joined a set-up with links to a successful Academy and he described Lydia as “a person who really excites us.”  Ed continues, “I say ‘person’ rather than player because the thing that impresses first about Lydia is her attitude and personality. Humble enough to receive coaching, self-aware enough to be able to reflect and be critical of herself, dead polite and friendly. These are all qualities that have allowed her to be the first to come through the female academy section at the club and debut for the first team.  As for her football ability, you’ll all see that for yourselves if you get down to watch us. Lydia has a skill set that is varied and energetic and will prove to be incredibly beneficial for us moving forward. We hope as a coaching team and as a club to be able to play a small part in contributing to her continued development and are excited to see just how far she goes.  We look forward to the prospect of more players coming through at BCA that we can welcome into Tier 4 first team football.”

Following a summer in which a Berkshire-born footballer was an integral part of the successes of the Lionesses it seems that the next generation of young players in the county may be given the best possible chance to shine locally.

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