In the second episode of the series, Southampton FC Women's midfielder Shannon Sievwright writes a letter to her younger self, referencing every part of her upbringing which helped shape the woman she is today. Here's her story.
Dear ten-year-old Shannon, well done for getting this far, to some it may be a surprise!
You should be really proud of yourself, just keep doing your best. You will continue to have a great time over the next few years but there will be things you do find challenging.
I’ve got a few words of advice that will help you along the way.
There will be times where you worry about your weight and put yourself down for it. The most frequent conversation you have with someone will be with yourself.
Make them positive. Be proud of who you are!
Trust me, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you football has taken you to places you never even knew existed! You even go to China! Yes, that is an actual place!
You know all of those McDonalds Happy Meals you ate? The ones that came with toys inside? Most of them say ‘Made in China’ on them, yes you went there!
So, maybe don’t eat too many of those, and perhaps lay off the Prawn Cocktail crisps.
You will realise that considering what you eat will be an important part of being an athlete. You will learn how to fuel yourself properly and it will really help improve your performance.
Shannon, you have so many people to thank. You have such a supportive family and you have surrounded yourself with positive people who have helped guide, shape, and develop you into the person you are today.
Don’t take any of them for granted.
You will meet many people who don’t have the support structure that you have, you are where you are today because of the unconditional support you have received.
Sean, your bother, stop fighting him! Thank him for his poor attempt at playing football with you over the park for hours. When you and your mates are selecting teams, choose Sean more often, he isn’t too bad at being a lazy striker.
A little word of advice. When you see a sign saying ‘Warning Anti-Vandal Paint, Do Not Climb’ don’t climb on it! You will ruin your new England kit, then you and Sean will spend about an hour trying to pluck up the courage to break it to mum.
Instead go climb a tree, being up a tree will keep you out of trouble.
Make the most of playing over the football park, it has a huge impact on your development. The endless hours you spend playing headers and volleys leads to you being half decent at striking a ball.
Maybe work on the right foot more often!
Beach Soccer. Have you heard of it? You haven’t, but you will. In your first session you aren’t too bad, you manage to keep the ball in the air, probably down to the hours you spent practising your kick ups. In the garden, in the bedroom, in the kitchen, in the living room, wherever you can find some space, keep practising.
Even if mum is shouting at you telling you to stop, just don’t make her too angry, you will get grounded. We both know how much you hate being grounded!
Guess what? With commitment and perseverance you go on to represent England and develop friendships that will last a lifetime.
I think you should thank your dad more often for taxiing you to and from training and matches, you wouldn’t be where you are today without him. You only really start to appreciate the number of hours he must have spent in the car trying to get you to football on time as you get older and have to drive yourself. Thank you dad.
College and University. You aren’t thinking about that right now however you go on to graduate from University. You realise as you get older the joy that learning brings. Remember, you never stop learning.
At college you find your passion for coaching, when you find this passion, something that gives you purpose and meaning, give everything you can, gain as much experience as possible and enjoy the journey. It will be a bumpy ride, one that you are still on now. Look forward to and embrace any challenges you face, these moments will be when you learn the most.
Shannon. 15 years later and you are still playing football and loving the game, you wouldn’t believe some of the pitches you get to play on now. They are so much better than the football park.
I think the hours you spend at the youth club playing pool, football or attempting to learn some street dance has set you up nicely to work at the Saints Foundation. Don’t underestimate the skills you can develop whilst playing out that will help you in the future. I’m not talking about football skills right now.
Shannon, as you can see you still love to talk! Can you hear that?
Yes, that is dad shouting from across the field calling you in for dinner. Everyone over the park knows that the shout is a signal for the football match to end immanently as you take your ball home for dinner, sorry mum, I meant tea.
Before you head home for dinner, no wait tea, one more thing. Thank your dad for the endless hours he has spent driving you to football.
Don’t argue with Sean, he is the lazy striker you will need on top form in your match tomorrow! Tell your sister you love her, although you don’t think you have much in common right now you end up spending plenty of time going for brunch and walks together.
And mum, give her the biggest hug and kiss, she is the best mum in 10 streets and will always be there for you.
Love you loads Shannon. Keep working hard.