Brooke Aspin is a central defender for Bristol City Women’s FC and the England Under-17 team. At just 16 years old, and with a full season under her belt in the FA Women’s Championship, her raw talent and no-nonsense style of play hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Since being relegated, Bristol City has had a new lease of life under Head Coach Lauren Smith. How has her fresh leadership and a predominantly new squad affect this past season for you?
Lauren gave me the opportunity to show what I can do in the Championship this season at a really young age. She empowers me to take responsibility on and off the pitch, and gives us all confidence to believe in ourselves. She’s definitely helped me become a better player. The squad only had two or three players signed last summer, and she was able to build a really good team with nice mix of youth and experience. Finishing third in the league was something we should all be really proud of and gives us a good platform to build on for next season as we push for promotion to the WSL.
Bristol City v Liverpool last month attracted 5,752 supporters to Ashton Gate, a new club and FA Women’s Championship record! What does this level of support mean to you in the light of the growing #HerGameToo movement?
To be able to set a record like we did that day shows the women’s game has come really far in a short space of time, but still has a long way to go. When we get to play in front of a big crowd, the noise you hear when you make a good tackle or score a goal has a massive effect on you as a player and I hope we can keep playing in front of big crowds like that. When you see the massive crowds at Barcelona this season, it shows how many people are interested in the women’s game and want to support it. Once you go to a game like the one at Ashton Gate against Liverpool, word spreads around the city that it’s a good standard and a fun day out and hopefully makes people want to come back and keep supporting us because they like what they are seeing.
You’re a great team player, and forged a formidable partnership with Satara Murray in the heart of defence which saw you described as ‘unbeatable’. How did your partnership with Satara help develop your style of play?
Sats was an amazing partner to have alongside me last season. She took me under her wing and helped me right from the very start. I learnt so much from her about how to defend, and how to be a top professional. I’ll always remember the support and advice she gave me for the rest of my career. She’s gone to play in America now and I’ll definitely miss her but I’m sure she’ll always be there to support me wherever our careers take us.
You recently scored your first international goal for England Under-17s against Croatia. You came on in the 89th minute and scored the 8th goal of the game minutes after that. What is it like to score for England?
It’s one of the best feelings in the world, scoring for your country. I was inches away from scoring in the two previous matches, so I guess it was third time lucky! You could probably tell from my celebration how much it meant to me! The best part for me was the way my teammates reacted and celebrated with me because they knew how much it meant to me. I love playing for my country; it is something I’ve wanted ever since I was a little girl playing in my back garden. Wearing the captain’s armband means everything to me and I’m so proud when I represent England.
How did it feel to achieve such an incredible win against Croatia (8-0) and still not qualify for the U17 European Championships?
We knew there was a chance it would happen, and while it was tough to take it shows that you have to win every match in qualification for major tournaments. We beat Poland and gave France a huge battle. We went into that Croatia game knowing we had to win by five goals, but also knowing our fate wasn’t in our own hands and that we needed Poland to beat France, which ultimately they didn’t. We try to learn from every experience, and it taught us that you can’t control the uncontrollable. We did what we needed to do in the last game beating Croatia, and showed great character, but ultimately it wasn’t to be.
Back in January when playing against Manchester City, you suffered a head injury but continued to see out the rest of the game. How much, if at all, has your career been affected by injury?
So far, touch wood, I’ve been really fortunate and have been able to avoid too many injuries. We train well, are in the gym a lot and our preparation and recovery is top, so hopefully that continues and we stay fit and healthy next season.
You have been described as ‘controlled and measured’, with ‘raw talent’ and a having a ‘no-nonsense’ style of play. How would you describe your temperament as a player?
I definitely love a tackle! It’s fair to say I enjoy defending and going into every challenge to win the ball, not just for myself but for my team. My mentality is to succeed in everything I do. I do like the physical side of the game, and I think defending 1 v 1 and the physical battles are my ‘super-strengths’. At the beginning of the season in the game against Lewes, one of their players went shoulder to shoulder with me and knocked me across about four pitches! We played them later in the season and the same player tried the same thing, and I was able to hold my own against her as I was getting used to the physical side of the game and had been working hard in the gym. I have to keep working hard to develop physically, technically and tactically if I want to achieve my personal ambitions.
There has been talk on social media that ‘this girl is going to the very top’. At only 16 years old with your whole career ahead of you, what ambitions do you have in the world of Women’s Football?
I want to fulfil my potential and get to the very top of the women’s game. In terms of international ambitions, I want to captain England in a World Cup. Domestically I want to win the WSL. I’ve also dreamed of playing in a Champions League Final, whether that is with a WSL club or a club abroad. I’ll give absolutely everything to get achieve all of that and more.
How do you find balancing football and your ongoing college studies?
Balancing full-time football and college work can be difficult with the amount of time we spend training and travelling. Completing my education is really important to me, and I try to keep a balance between the two. The club, and my family, are really supportive of that. The majority of my assignments are done when I’m on the train going to the training ground but the WiFi is really unreliable so that is a bit of a challenge! Sometimes when you get home from training you just want to rest, but I have assignments to do and I’m lucky to have the support of my family to keep me on track.
Lastly, who are your role models in football and in life?
In football, I study lots of centre-backs to try and learn from them. Leah Williamson and Millie Bright both have different qualities to their game and I hope I can learn from both of them and incorporate the best of each of them into my game. In life my Dad is my biggest role model – he has taken so much time and effort out of his life to help mine and without him I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Photography: Barley Nimmo
Agency: Gen Z