Durham's dynamo midfielder, Jess Round, talks to SOTB about the new season ahead and her experience in the England squad.
Q. Are you and the rest of the team excited for the new FA WSL season?
I am looking forward to this exciting new venture and its great to be involved in this new generation of the development of women's football. As a new team we will thrive, learn and grow at the challenges ahead of us.
Q. Are there any teams you see as rivals, especially on a personal level, with your old club Sunderland being in the league?
At the present moment, Durham and Sunderland are the two most northern teams In the league. Therefore, this local derby will be competitive which is great, as this will draw many local spectators and again heighten the growth of women's football. Obviously knowing players from Sunderland does give me an insight on how they play and can be used as an advantage. Sunderland have some talented players with lots of experience as a team and I am looking forward to the game.
With regards to the rest of the league, there are teams like ourselves who are fairly unknown and then there are those who are deemed as favourites, all of whom provide different challenges. However, our opponents should see Durham WFC as a challenge as we are one of those unknown entities.
Q. You have represented England at various youth levels, do you think you can continue to have a successful international career in the future?
Being involved with England from a young age has given me a wealth of experience and knowledge into how hard it is to be an athlete. I would hope in the future that I will be called upon as I do work hard in between my studies. Playing for your country I believe is a privilege.
Q. When you're not playing/training with Durham, how do you find the balance to fit in your studies as well?
I study a sports degree and juggling study, work and training is just about managing my time effectively. I've had to learn to do this since secondary school when I started to be a part of the international set up so I have adapted to being organised. My friend always tell me that I'm too organised, to which I always reply "You can never be too organised"!
Q. With the second tier being created for the FA WSL and more matches being shown on TV, positive steps are happening in women's football. How does this feel for the players to finally see the game developing more and being invested in?
Its brilliant! From the time I started playing football to date, the changes have been incredible. When I think about it where it will progress in another 10 years, it continues to be moving in the right direction, overall bridging the gap between the women's and the men's game is fantastic.
My long term plan is to complete my degree and train to be a PE teacher, as well as remain playing. Refereeing was something I did as a teenager to earn a bit of money after getting my referee qualification. At this stage, coaching may be something I would consider when I retire but at this moment playing is for me.
Q. Who do you see as your football idol/hero?
To be honest I don't have one specific football icon that I look up to. I look at footballers as a whole, with a huge amount of respect for what they do and how they have got there. From a young age I was taught from my dad that you get out of it what you put in, so one of my icons is my dad, they can come from different areas.
Q. And finally, what advice would you give to any young aspiring footballers?
My advice for younger players is to take advice and learn from different people to make themselves a better player.
Jess became a local celebrity in her hometown Redcar in May 2010, when she officially opened new football facilities. She was an England U17 international and Sunderland player at the time. Photos are those of Gazette Live.
Good luck with the season Jess and thank you for your answers.