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Inspired by Lionesses and the Euros, two rising stars join Cambridge United ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Two rising sporting achievers, Isla and Rueben, from Longthorpe Primary School part of Peterborough Keys Academies Trust have individually been selected to join Cambridge United.

Inspired by watching the Lionesses Isla Rayner, who is ten years old and in Year 6 has loved playing football from the age of four. During the summer holidays, the rising star successfully gained a place on the U12 Girls Development team and now trains with them once a week.  


“Isla has been playing football since she was four when she began training with the boys because a girls’ team wasn’t available for her at the time. She has been hooked ever since and is now playing her third season for Netherton United U11 Girls” said Isla’s mother Emma Rayner. 


“Over the summer she attended a trial at Cambridge United and successfully gained a place on the U12 Girls Development team and now trains with them once a week. After just five training sessions she has been selected to play her first fixture with that team against Colchester in the half term holiday,” said Emma.  


Isla said: “I adore the Lionesses and I have been to see them play quite a lot of times now. I went to the Euros semifinals and I will watch them play Belgium at Leicester during half term.”


Isla has met Sarina Weigman and Beth Mead however her favourite player is Lucy Bronze. For her birthday this year her family hired the club house at Netherton and she watched the second World Cup fixture on a big projector screen with all her friends.


Reuben, eight years old and in Year 4 was never a massive fan of football, as he much preferred playing with his trains and learning about space. However, Reuben loved to throw himself around diving all over the floor or standing in goal to catch the balls kicked by the older boys.


His mother Hannah Bryant said: “Reuben really began to enjoy football while watching the Euro’s in 2021 he especially loved watching the goal keepers and watching how they saved the ball and how crazy they were. His favourite footballing moment is Alisson Becker the Liverpool goalkeeper scoring a goal in the last minute of a game to win the match!”


Reubens older brother’s grassroots coach had told him how he was setting up a team for Reuben’s age and would Reuben play?


Reuben was very firm with his reply! He said: “I’m only going to come if I’m the goalkeeper!”


That is where Reuben’s journey began, playing for a local grassroots team where in his first season he picked up many ‘man of the match’ awards and he won ‘parent’s player of the season’.


Reuben continued with his grassroots team at u7 but he was unaware he was being watched by scouts from local academies.  He was asked to go on trial at three professional football clubs including Leicester City, Peterborough United and Cambridge United.


The rising star enjoyed many training sessions with all three clubs and a lot of time in the car travelling! He  was then asked to sign to the club’s academy by Peterborough and Cambridge and he had the hard decision to make of who to join, Reuben (even though he’s a Peterborough Fan) chose Cambridge United.


Reuben loved the training and coaches there and even though it means travelling to Newmarket twice a week he’s loving his footballing journey and has signed an Academy contract with Cambridge United for the 2023/2024 season. Reuben has been given the opportunity to play at some amazing training grounds such as: Crystal Palace, Leicester, Fulham, Bournemouth, AFC Wimbledon, Leeds, Milton Keynes and his Favourite Manchester City.


Reuben’s favourite footballing moment was saving a penalty against Manchester City. He has been given an amazing opportunity and met some famous footballing faces along the way including Ex England Manager Glen Hoddle, Patrick Bamford, Jonson Clarke-Harris and Ex England Goal Keeper David James.


“Reuben is really enjoying his journey and is looking forward to spending many more weekends travelling to many fantastic training grounds across the county and the possibility of an international tour representing Cambridge United,” said his mother, Hannah.


Even though he knows that he has to put in a lot of hard work and focus and that one day it could all come to an end his ultimate dream is to be England’s number one!                   


Mrs Kate Trethewy, headteacher of Longthorpe Primary School said: “I am very proud of Isla and Reuben’s accomplishments; the pride and joy on their faces when I talk to them about their football, is clear to see.  It is wonderful that our children build on the health and fitness we offer in school in the form of daily exercise such as the 'Daily mile' alongside the quality PE lessons we deliver.  We look forward to seeing how their future pans out and wish them every success.”