Mary Bashford: "It was a very proud moment for me and my family"

The 17-year-old was named in the first team squad along with fellow RTC graduate Alicia Grimmond, and came onto the pitch at the 85th minute during Charlton’s 3-1 Victory against Coventry United in the Continental Cup.

“It felt really special, it was a very proud moment for me and my family, it is great to be given the opportunity to experience something outside of my comfort zone.”

Bashford has been training with the first team since pre-season, going on tour to Scotland with the squad in August, and said it is a great experience being amongst such experienced players, after coming through the ranks with Charlton’s u16 team at such a rapid pace.

“It is good to get that experience and be around very experienced players that know what they're doing and it’s nice to learn from them, how they play week in, week out.

“It feels like I have shot up through the age groups, it is very exciting to go up to that new level and be around these really experienced, amazing players.”

When asked about Manager Karen Hills, Mary had nothing but praise for her manager, highlighting the importance and influence Karen has had on shaping her as a player. 

“She is really encouraging, a very supportive coach, but then she can be very serious when it gets to it. I just love listening to her, it is a great opportunity, she says stuff that I haven't even thought about, it is just great to learn new things everyday.

As well as training with the first team, Bashford also gets the opportunity to train with the U21 team, under Charlton legend Kim Dixson:

“It is amazing, I never thought I would be working so closely with them, I am just proud I can see them every week, they teach me so much every week, it is a great opportunity.

A key opportunity the club offers is a fantastic pathway for young players like Bashford to come through the academy, yet again the 17-year-old spoke highly of everyone who has helped her to develop: “Every player in this squad is just so supportive and positive to me, it’s been really encouraging, it has helped me come up and be more confident and be able to develop as a player, they have encouraged me so much to do that and I am very grateful for all of them.”

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