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Get to know – Katie James


AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Ahead of their big game against Keynsham Town at Vitality Stadium on Sunday, AFC Bournemouth puts the spotlight on some of the women's team's players, continuing with midfielder Katie James.

Although it’s every kid’s dream to be a professional footballer, Katie James lives in the real world.

A key cog in the AFC Bournemouth women’s team, midfielder James also boasts an impressive academic CV.

But despite having a degree in sports psychology and a Masters in performance analysis, James has put her career on the backburner to focus her attentions on playing the beautiful game.

Born and raised in Poole, James, who was schooled at Springdale First, Lockyer’s Middle and Corfe Hills, joined the Cherries ahead of the start of the 2021/22 season, their first in the National League.

She said: “Everyone wants to be a professional footballer, I just think I know the realism of it.

“For a women’s player, it’s really difficult just to have that as their only job which is why I got my education and things like that.

“At the moment, I’m fully focused on playing. I work for Hampshire County Council because all I want to do is play and I need a job which allows me to do that.

“I don’t play football for the money, it’s not a focus for me. I came here because I’m a local girl and I want to represent a team that means something to me.

“Bournemouth is where I grew up and I used to come to games when I was younger with my dad. To be here is more important than the money.

“When my playing days are done, hopefully, I can put a bit more focus into my career and become a performance analyst.”

James joined the Cherries from Portsmouth where she had been the club’s longest-serving player, having first started kicking a ball as a four-year-old for Ashdown Rovers, a boys’ team.

Although she dropped down a level to play for Steve Cuss’s team, James says she hasn’t looked back and is hoping to help the Cherries continue their rise through the women’s pyramid.

During her studies for her Masters, James spent 12 months on a work placement with the AFC Bournemouth Community Sports Trust helping with their performance analysis.

Asked whether it had been a difficult decision to leave Portsmouth after eight years, James said: “There were a couple of things.

“At the time I was doing my Masters, I needed the work placement to get through that and Steve kindly offered me a position with the Community Sports Trust.

“When you get an opportunity to play for your local team, I think it is something which always appeals to you.

“You get the chance to come home and to be close to your family. I know Pompey isn’t far, but I had broken up with my girlfriend and was living on my own.

“I would come back at weekends to see friends and family. Everything I have is based here so it wasn’t a difficult decision.

“I can’t see myself moving away again. I’ve got everything I need here, the beach, the countryside, why would you want to be anywhere else?”

With the women’s setup having been brought under the direction of the club this summer, James says there has been a noticeable difference in the strength of the squad.

She added: “In terms of the way the club’s run, there’s definitely been changes. But in terms of the style of play, I don’t think much has changed.

“I think the season is going as expected. We knew we wanted to compete for the league and knew we had the players to do that.

“With the group we’ve got this season, it’s changed in terms of the characteristics. There’s a lot more depth in the squad and that is down to the changes in the background with the takeover.

“In my first year here, we ended up finishing second. If we’d had more depth then, potentially, we could have won the league. Now we have players not even on the bench who could be starting.”

To mark mental health awareness week last season, James was the subject of an extremely moving AFC Bournemouth club video where she spoke candidly and bravely about her own personal struggles.

Among the issues she discussed were contemplating suicide, her parents’ break-up, self-harming, bunking off school, her sexuality, alcohol abuse and depression.

Some 19 months on, James, now 28, reflected on the video and the feedback she received: “Doing that video was a big deal for me because I had never before said those things on camera. There were things I don’t think my parents had ever heard before.

“The feedback was really nice, just to know you are helping by getting it out there. There will always be people going through the same thing.

“Since I did it, I think I’ve settled a lot more and been a lot more comfortable in myself. Being at Bournemouth has been a massive part of that.

“I feel like it closed a chapter of my life, even though mental health and things like that are things I’m always going to battle, nobody is ever going to be okay 100 per cent of the time.

“But that was a really dark chapter in my life which I’ve now been able to take a step away from and feel like I’ve got some closure on it.

“This club has helped massively. When I first moved back to Bournemouth, I struggled a bit because it was change and change is difficult.

“But I’ve found my feet with playing and some of my best friends now work at the club. The squad have built a really good social network this season, more so than previous seasons.

“Everything has fallen into place since I’ve moved back.”

This article appeared in MATCHDAY for the visit of Fulham on Boxing Day.

To book tickets and select seats for the Keynsham game, click here. 

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