We chat with Withington Girls School student Ariella Shapiro, who’s just returned from representing England’s Under-18 Women’s football squad in goal at this years’ Maccabiah Games.
Representing one’s country on any field is a chance that few people get in their lifetime, but it’s a position that young Ariella Shapiro found herself in as she set off to play as England’s Under-18s women’s goalkeeper in this year’s Maccabiah Games. It took a lot of hard work and dedication for Ariella to get to that point: “There were trials down in London. A lot of the team is London-based. I went down and did what I usually do, and they liked it. They asked me to come back and train with them, which was a big commitment since the training was based so far away.”
Football is very much in Ariella’s blood and had been a part of her life since she was very young: “I’ve been playing football since I was about ten years old. My whole family is has always been mad on football and my sister also played in the Games in 2017.” Ariella has also played the beautiful game locally and will be starting a brand-new contract with Leeds United this season: “Last season I played for a local team, Bury FC’s under-18s women’s team. And for this season I took part in trial for Leeds and was offered a contract there. I’ve started pre- season training already and we’ll be playing our first fixture in early September.”
Representing England in the Maccabiah Games was the experience of a lifetime for Ariella: “It was a really incredible experience; it was just crazy. We visited a sports centre in a rehabilitation centre
for people who had served in the Israel Defence Forces and were injured. We got to try out sports and activities that we usually wouldn’t have a chance to. It was also really great to be surrounded by Jewish people that I’ve never met, from loads of different countries.”
Like the majority of the country, Ariella was thrilled by the Lionesses’ recent win at the Euros and even got to attend a match herself: “It was really great to see the Lionesses’ win, as well as all the support and attention that women’s football got from it. I got to go see one of the matches, England vs The Netherlands at Elland Road. In that moment, it kind of all came together for me, because I’d just been offered the contract at Leeds, and I was watching the Lionesses play there thinking: ‘This could be me one day.’”