Charlton Athletic WFC
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Hello Ciara, introduce yourself…
Hi I’m Ciara Watling, I’m a centre midfielder for Charlton Athletic and Northern Ireland.
What are your specific qualities as a football player?
My specific qualities would be that I’m very hard working, in training and on Match day I think this is very important as it can always give you the edge especially in the last moments of the game. I’m always doing extra sessions and working hard in the gym too.
I have a good vision for a pass, and my range of passing is good enough long or short.
I’m a smart player on and off the ball.
And lastly I’d say socially I’m very good on and off the pitch.
Why did you start playing football? And were you immediately a midfielder ?
I started playing around 14 for a local team, I just said to my dad one day can I find a team. I always played in primary and secondary school, and down the park with my friends I just never joined a team until late.
I actually was a striker and then when I came to Charlton I was playing up front and on the wing, then gradually I moved into centre midfield.
Ciara, you joined Charlton Athletic WFC at the age of 15 after a successful trial. In your first season you was awarded Player of the Season for the academy. Could you tell us more about your experience at youth football?
came on trial, I was training with the team for a couple of weeks, I played one game against Watford and scored so I think that helped. After that it was the end of the season so I was signed in the summer which was for the reserves and academy team.
I trained with the academy team every Monday Tuesday and Friday then we played on Wednesdays. This was a great experience as I went from playing in parks winning 20-0 every week to playing at Chelsea and arsenals training grounds. It was one of my favourite experiences with the academy, it was basically full time football in the daytime at the training ground, I really liked my coach James Blackwell he was a big change from what I was experiencing before, he really helped me develop as a person and player.
So alongside the academy I also played with the reserves training Tuesday and Thursday evenings and playing on Sunday’s, we were a successful team. We would split the Astro so first team were one end and reserves the other end, James was the first team coach alongside Paul Mortimer and I always got brought up to train with the first team and then i just was involved in match days with them pretty straight away.
After playing with the Charlton’s first team, you went on loan to Millwall Lionesses LFC before moving permanently. Did you noticed a lot of difference between these clubs?
There wasn’t a lot of difference between the clubs, my friends were playing at Millwall and I was young so wanted to go and play for them. I was told about Millwall’s super league plans and application and that was also a factor, which Charlton didn’t have in place at that moment.
In May 2014, you made your debut for the first team as a substitute against London Bees in the FA WSL Cup. How important was that moment for you ?
It was a really great experience for me, I’d worked very hard to get there.
I’d spent the first part of the season captaining the development, so it was great for me.
For Millwall Lionesses LFC, you made 49 league appearances during four seasons. Why did you leave Millwall Lionesses ?
If I’m being honest the management that took over at the start of the season wasn’t for me, I wasn’t enjoying being there, I knew some players at Crystal Palace spoke highly of the club so we mutually agreed for me to leave. It was really upsetting for me to be honest, I loved the club and everything about it so for it to end up how it did it was upsetting.
In 2016, you moved from Millwall Lionesses LFC to Crystal Palace WFC. And you stay there for four season. How was your time there ?
I loved my time at palace, I dropped down a level to play for them and was more focused on enjoying football and getting better. I was playing every week and really enjoying training, which helped me develop.
We had some very successful seasons and ending us in the women’s championship.
My first two seasons at palace we had a great team, we all clicked and worked for each other it was a great bunch.
Ciara, you made your debut for the Northern Ireland national team on 24 October 2015 against Georgia. What are your ambitions at international level?
Well in April we have the play-off game for the European qualifiers my first ambition would be to stay fit and be selected to be in the squad and the second one would be to qualify for the euros that would be the ultimate dream going to the Euro’s. I never imagined I’d come this far in football at all so everything I achieve is a dream for me so far.