Durham Women FC have confirmed the signing of Ali Johnson.
The 22-year-old joins the Wildcats after a spell at Blackburn Rovers and will add some versatility to Lee Sanders’ squad ahead of the final three games of the 2020/21 season and into the 2021/22 campaign.
Johnson, who can play on the left or right side of midfield or defence, started her career at Blackburn having progressed through the club’s Regional Talent Club.
Her potential was quickly noted and Liverpool made their move in 2016. Johnson went on to establish herself as a member of the Reds’ squad in the top tier of the game before joining another Women’s Super League side in Bristol City in 2018.
After a year with the Robins, Johnson moved on to Sheffield United and was a regular in the Blades’ side before re-joining Blackburn earlier this term.
Johnson also has international honours, having represented England at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2018 while racking-up a number of appearances at youth level for her country.
And her next chapter will come at Maiden Castle – with Johnson excited about what lies ahead.
“I’m absolutely delighted and buzzing to get this over the line,” she said.
“I can’t wait for the rest of the season and building for next season.
“Everyone has been very welcoming and it’s a very friendly environment to be in.
“I just want to help us push us and get the results we need and want in the last three games.”
Johnson will be able to make her Durham debut against Sheffield United on Sunday, March 28 if selected.
It’s been a big week for Durham as they have also agreed an exciting new partnership with Kepier Secondary School to launch a unique Youth Development Programme in Houghton-le-Spring.
The new Youth Development Programme will launch in time for the new academic year and will give both male and female pupils at the School a chance to pursue a career in football while ensuring their studies are not affected.
The programme is aimed at pupils who will be moving into Year 7 and Year 8 in September 2021 and wish to take up the opportunity to study at Kepier while forming part of the football programme.
Members of the Youth Development Programme will receive specialised coaching alongside a structured timetable of lessons with the aim of becoming a part of Durham Women FC’s dual-career pathway.
The timetable on offer to members of the programme will ensure they receive five sessions of coaching per week within school hours, with training sessions scheduled so as not to affect core subjects.
The programme is the latest move from Durham Women to ensure youngsters across the North East can pursue their dreams of a career in football – and Pathway and Development Manager Maddy Wood believes it will prove key moving forward.
“We are delighted to be working with Kepier moving forward,” she said.
“The club already has an established dual-career pathway with three Further Education partners (Durham Sixth Form Centre, Bede Sixth Form and Newcastle College) as well as a direct route into Higher Education with Durham University.
“After some consultation and the enthusiasm shown by Kepier to develop a similar programme for younger players, we see this as a crucial part of our pathway as it develops.
“Engaging with youth players in their educational setting and exposing them to the opportunities available to them both on and off the pitch is a key priority for the club, and we believe this partnership gives us a great opportunity to do that.”
“This is an exciting venture with Durham Women Football Club” said Mrs Ashton, Principal of Kepier.
And with the new academic year approaching, interested players who are currently in Year 6 and Year 7 are invited to attend trials over the upcoming Easter Holidays.
Trials will be held on Thursday, April 1 and Thursday, April 8 from 9:30am to 11am at Houghton Kepier, DH4 5BH.
Courtesy of Durham Women FC