Is it possible to ‘have it all’? Well, one University of Portsmouth student is proving that it is. Professional footballer, PGCE student, personal trainer and teacher: Jade Widdows is packing a lot in.
Jade comes from a sporty family. She fell in love with football at an early age and started playing with the boys. But at age 12, she was told she had to go and play with the girls.
This led her to Brighton & Hove Albion’s Centre of Excellence. Such was her talent that she was then offered a sports scholarship to South Carolina in the States. She studied communications with a minor in sports science. And played football.
Jade said: "It was such a good learning experience. We trained hard and we trained a lot. University sport is really big over in the US. I played in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and for a semi-professional league."
The next steps
Upon her return to the UK, Jade signed for Brighton & Hove Albion and became a personal trainer. She then signed for Chichester, but the teaching bug was calling.
She started teaching sports psychology at Chichester College and then sports coaching at South Downs College. The experience left its mark and led to Jade opting to study for her PGCE at the University of Portsmouth.
She said: "I’m in my second year now. I’ve always liked the idea of teaching. I think about those sporty children that are like I was at school.
"I want them to have the opportunities and realise their potential the same way that I could. I like the fact that I’m helping those young people achieve that."
While studying for her PGCE, Jade was approached by Portsmouth and signed last March. The club’s set up and aspirations attracted her to the team.
"We’ve got such an amazing group of players and coaches who are all looking in the same direction," she added. "I think we can take it to the next level if we get the right support. I’m very proud to play for Portsmouth."
Making it all work
Juggling professional sport with study and work is a challenge. The flexibility of the University of Portsmouth's PGCE course has helped make this possible. Jade chose to study with them as she could fit studying around the other areas of her life. So how does she do it?
She explained: "I think I’m quite good at managing my time. I work long days so I think I just somehow manage to fit it all in. Teaching, PT work, evening class for my PGCE, studies and football training.
"I don’t have a lot of spare time but I prefer to keep my life like that. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those people who have a quiet schedule! I’m very grateful for the opportunities at Portsmouth. It’s a very good experience."
Enabling everyone to take part in football is what Pompey is all about. This inclusive attitude is one of the reasons that the University of Portsmouth became a Main Club Partner.
The University and the club share the same ambitions; both want to play a key role in the economic, educational and cultural life of the city and region. The University say they’re proud to be part of Portsmouth and want to help increase participation in higher education.
See Jade and her team in action this Sunday when Pompey Women host Southampton at the PMC Stadium.
Accompanied juniors enter for free whilst tickets are £5 for adults and £2 for concessions (Unaccompanied U18/63+), and you can buy them here.