Ria set for a bright future

Ria Montgomery and coach Lewis Craig
Ria Montgomery and coach Lewis Craig

An aspiring footballer from Todmorden is set for a bright future after starring in a tournament in America.

Ria Montgomery, 17, from Walsden, was named as the players’ player of the tournament in the Dallas International Girls Cup with her team Blackburn Rovers under 17s.

Along with studying an extended diploma in sport and exercise at Burnley College Sixth Form, she is also a member of the Burnley College Football Academy. Ria has had trials for the England Colleges Women’s XI and represented Burnley College at Sweden’s Gothia Cup tournament in July 2015, where she also received the players’ player award.

Ria’s coach Lewis Craig arranged trials for her with Blackburn Rovers and after impressing coaches, she was called up for the reserve team just a few weeks later.

Her career at Blackburn has seen her starting in games against clubs such as Huddersfield Town, Leeds United and Stockport County, while she recently won the Ladies Reserve League Cup against Bradford City reserves, taking them to the top of the Northern Reserves Division.

She then made her first team appearance on Sunday, May 1 against Sporting Club Albion.

After just five months on the team, Ria was invited to travel to the USA with Blackburn Rovers to participate in the Dallas International Girls Cup.

The team finished third after being knocked out in the semi-finals by the eventual winners Dallas Texans under 17s.

Ria said: “Choosing to come to Burnley College and enrol on the football academy programme has given me the opportunity to achieve a full time academic course alongside free football training, strength and conditioning and physiotherapy.

“Our head coach Lewis Craig quickly identified areas of my game I needed to work on and gave me the coaching and belief I needed to progress to the next level.

“Competing in Sweden and America have been amazing experiences and I’m looking to continue training hard to hopefully secure an American scholarship this summer.”

Lewis Craig said: “We have worked really hard together to ensure Ria is performing to the best of her ability. She has the capability to go very far in football especially if she is able to secure a scholarship in America for the summer.

“We’re all very proud of her achievements,”