Rapid rise reaps England rewards for Mia Cinque
Young star makes swift progress for international recognition
When six-year-old Mia Cinque turned up to her first football training session in a replica England shirt, nobody could have known that it was to be the start of a decade-long journey to representing the country.
It was in the garden that the now 16-year-old Netherhall School student began kicking the ball about with her father, and that developed to school holiday camps with Premier Soccer.
Fast forward 10 years, and Cinque was donning the national shirt for real, appearing for England under-17s against the USA last winter at St George’s Park.
Cinque is a shining example of the growth of the girls’ game in Cambridgeshire, having played for Sawston and Cambridge United, and being a part of the county FA’s Advanced Coaching Centre.
And she is combining that with playing for Tottenham Hotspur for the last two years.
“The ACC plays a very high standard of football,” said Cinque. “Everyone in the team is a really good player, and we play boys’ teams as well so that’s a challenge, and the ACC coaching is great.
“With the boys and girls’ thing, the Premier Soccer training I did when I was six, there wasn’t another thing for girls; I just joined in with the boys.
“Now if you look at it, there are girls’ teams, there is so much more about for girls and there are more opportunities that have developed.”
A good coach is always so important, and in Cinque’s development as a player she has had a great mentor.
The midfielder started working with Laura Bright at Cambridge United, and the duo were reunited at the ACC.
“She’s always been a great help to me,” said Cinque.
“She has been such a good coach and I have so much respect for her.
“I watched her play as well, and it’s nice to see how she plays the central midfield role, so you can learn from that and put what you see into your game.
“She’s just an all-round great coach. You can talk to her, have a joke with her, then she will be serious.
“She is always giving you feedback which is really helpful; she will point out things in a game that I can’t see myself.”
That input has clearly been vital in helping Cinque develop at Spurs, and most importantly earn international recognition.
She joined the ACC in September last year, was picked for a regional camp in the November and received her first call-up to an England training camp in December.
Cinque was put on standby for a tournament in Salou, and then came the moment to represent her country in February.
It was the night before the match against the USA that the starting XI was announced on a big screen in a briefing session, and Cinque, who was given the No 21, was named as one of the substitutes.
And she was called into action in the second half, on the Wembley replica pitch.
“To be called for the December camp and then get put on standby for going to Salou for a tournament was quite an achievement, and I didn’t expect that,” said Cinque. “And the second call-up was amazing.
“The day of the match, the starting XI get a tracksuit in white and the subs get another jacket, and when I came on it was just amazing and such an unreal experience.
“I feel so lucky because playing for your country doesn’t happen to everybody. I just feel so lucky that I’ve actually had the opportunity.
“After the match, when my dad came to pick me up, we were speaking to one of the welfare officers and they were saying that only one per cent of the population get to do what I did on that day, which was play against the USA.
“It just really made me think how lucky I was, and to really keep working hard to make sure I get called up again.”