Eniola Aluko, Chelsea and England forward, has revealed the tough times she faced as a young, female athlete and her determination to inspire young footballers during England’s trip to the World Cup.

“There comes a point where you have to be ok with what you do. As a woman you’ve got to be ok with the fact that you play football and at a younger age, I wasn’t. I wasn’t comfortable with being a footballer, even though I was good.”

Having played internationally for over 10 years and now close to her 100th cap, Aluko is a staple of Mark Sampson’s squad. Add this to the 32 international goals under her belt and a role in the London 2012 Olympics, it’s difficult to imagine Eniola ever lacking confidence in her footballing abilities.

Watch Eniola Aluko in the vide below as she discusses the challenges she faced at the start of her footballing career and how she overcame them:

As a professional footballer now, Eniola is aware of her role model status and the responsibility she has to ensure that young girls don’t face the same fears and doubts that she did.

Some of the hard-hitting quotes from the above video:

“I played for boys’ teams which was great until it became an issue with opposition coaches. They’d say: ‘Oh you can’t have a girl playing, where are the rules that say girls can play?’”

“You have to realise that, as a role model to young girls, you will affect their behaviour in some way.”

“If I can change a 14 year old girls mind on deciding to quit football or not, I want to be a positive impact on that person. I hold that in high regard and try to act accordingly.”

Eniola Aluko is on the #RoadToCanada, supported by Continental Tyres.

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