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Meet Ayanna De Sousa

Ayanna has a calm temperament and cool exterior but her speed, technique and ability to turn and take on a player is an absolute nightmare to defend. You can see her love for football every time she sets foot on the pitch and she is an absolute pleasure to coach. After scoring her first hat-trick for the first team last weekend, we caught up with Ayanna about how she got into football, her journey so far and her goals for the rest of the season.

About Ayanna

When and how did you first start playing football?

When i was younger, both my parents worked late, so i was always in different sports clubs and after school activities and out of all the sports i participated in, football just happened to be the one i instantly fell in love with. After months of asking my parents to let me play football instead of doing ballet, when i was 6 years old they finally agreed to letting me give it a go, and found a summer camp for me to start playing.

I joined AFC Leyton when i was 12, and have played for them for now 4 and a half years almost 5.

What is your favourite memory in football?

I have so many football memories, it’s hard to pick a favourite, but if i had to choose i would say a time i don’t think i will ever forget is when i got the chance to travel with my u14’s team to Butlins and St. George’s to compete in tournaments. I got to experience these journeys with some of the best people i know, and playing in new locations in different competitions, winning medals was always one of my favourite things of many about the sport.

What position do you play?

I’m mostly a right winger, but i don’t mind playing on the left aswell, as i think i can use different strengths on different sides of the pitch.

Describe yourself as a player?

As a player, i’d probably describe myself as versatile, i think i can deliver well in different areas of the pitch carrying out different roles if needed. And I’d also say i think im quite an observant player in terms of the fact that i have a good eye for the game, i think i spot opportunities quickly which allows me to create them or advise others to.

Have you faced any barriers or obstacles while playing football?

As for challenges and barriers, i would say the biggest ones i’ve faced were probably when i first got into the sport. The summer camp i joined when i was younger consisted of all boys and i was the only girl out of around 100 other players. It was a big camp and there were no other local girls clubs at all, so it was really intimidating to begin with but i was so determined to play regardless. As a girl, no one really wanted me in their team so i was always the last picked, and at first it was a quite isolating but when i learnt that i really had nothing to lose, i grew confident enough to show my talent and i ended up making a lot of friends and eventually becoming one of the first people picked in group activities. I was then confident enough to start playing in school and even with kids i didn’t know at the park. It taught me a lot about resilience asides from the multiple different skills i learnt from playing there. As for now, the only challenges i face i would say is my confidence after bad games. I think i’ve always had high expectations of myself so when i don’t perform to meet them it bothers me quite abit. However my team now is probably the most supportive group of people i have ever met, they’re always my main hypewomen and it’s hard to be down when your around such an amazing squad.

Who is the funniest player in the first team?

For me to name one funniest player on the first team would be the biggest challenge of the season😂. Every week each of them make me laugh one way or another whether it’s at training or on game days and i think it’s very safe to say not one of my team mates are boring.

Who is the fastest player in the first team?

Fastest players on the team i would say Imena when on the ball as she is rapid in possession, and Naomi and Brogan off the ball, as any time we need saving in the back line Brogan 9 times out of 10 is speeding to the rescue, and likewise up the top of the pitch when a long ball’s been played in we can trust Naomi to chase it down and get on the end of it.

Do you have any individual goals for the rest of the season?

Individual goals for the rest of the season i would say is to be more creative on the ball. I want to stop being scared of trying new things with my playing style and switching it up occasionally depending on the teams we face.

If you had to give one bit of advice to one of our younger players at the club, what would it be?

Advice i would give to younger players, is to play with a smile. Football should feel enjoyable even on the days you don’t get the result you want. Everyone has bad days but persist, work hard and have fun.