Rosey leading Ladies charge

With West Ham United Ladies aiming for promotion from the FA Women's Premier League Southern Division this season, it is vital that the club is led towards their target by a captain who can keep the team bonded and inspired to win.

That role is given to centre-back Rosey Sullivan, who has to divide her time between captaining the Hammers, her studies and part-time work.

"I currently attend the University of Kent studying sports therapy which I love. This is my busiest year yet though. I have to complete a 100-hour placement and a 10,000 word dissertation for my module, as well as attending my lectures during the week. Along with this, I also play football three times a week for West Ham and have a job in Tesco!"

Like many other female footballers, Sullivan dreams of being paid to play football professionally, although she sadly admits this is unlikely to happen.

"I would love to be paid to play football. It would make my weeks less stressful as I wouldn't need to work a part-time job to earn money, plus I would have more time to concentrate on my studies. Getting paid to play football will never be the case, though, at least not during my time playing the sport."

Sullivan has been playing football for the past 13 years, having started at a Sunday league boys' club. After spending time with the Leyton Orient Girls Centre of Excellence Academy, she found the opportunity to join the team that she supports.

"I started playing football when I was seven, and the first team I joined was a boys' team called Leaside Colts in Hornchurch. I got involved with the Leyton Orient Girls Centre of Excellence and stayed there until I was 16, which was when I needed to find a ladies club.

"As I supported West Ham and knew the Ladies team trained close to where I live, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I wanted to keep playing at a high standard of football, so I joined West Ham United Ladies."

It has been four years since Sullivan signed for West Ham and during her time at the club, she has found that the team is getting more exposure and following from football fans, while the club is developing financially.

"Over the past few years we have had much more funding into the team. We also have had more coverage and publicity recently, with interviews like this being one example."

While they may not yet have the resources of the men's side, the Ladies have a professional set-up.

"Our coaching team is very good at West Ham. This year we work much more on technical strategies with coach Kate De Costa. We also have our fitness coach Roy Nixon back this season and he gets everyone buzzing. We also have coach Paul Blanchflower to go to coach if we need advice."

The main responsibility of a captain is to lead the team, although Sullivan knows that she can rely on the support of the other experienced players in the squad.

"In the dressing room we usually just listen to the manager Julia [Setford], but when we are in our circle, Jess Barling, Toni-Anne Wayne, Becky Merritt and I do our bit to encourage the team and get them going."

The Hammers have started the season well, gaining seven points from their opening four league games, and sit fourth in the table.

"It is extremely important to get the points early in the season. It boosts morale within the team, and everybody is buzzing with confidence, enabling a better performance on the pitch."

"A clean sheet always makes me feel better personally because I am a centre-half, but also as a team it gives us confidence as it shows we have the ability to defend throughout, not just the back four.

"I think we will do very well this season, as long as we keep improving. It is a tough league this season, so we all need to give 100 per cent in every training session and match. I wouldn't like to guess where we will finish, but hopefully we will do well."