In our latest Sussex Born & Bred interview, we spoke with former Brighton & Hove Albion, and current Lewes defender, Ellie Hack.
Many players will say that they grew up in a football mad household, and for Lewes centre-back Ellie Hack, 20, that certainly was the case.
“From as early as I can remember, I’ve been heading footballs,” reminisces Hack, “we’d be down the park every day, all of us, me, dad, and my brothers.
“And to be honest, I think the main reason I became a defender was because, when we’d all play together, the boys wouldn’t let me have the ball, unless I was able to get it off them!”
Born in Worthing, Hack’s footballing upbringing is thanks in no small part to her father, Stuart Hack, who made over 200 appearances for Lewes
It could be said to be unsurprising, therefore, that Ellie found herself joining her first team at the age of six, in the form of the girl’s team Littlehampton Devils.
However, her first taste of competitive football didn’t exactly go to plan.
“My first memory playing for them was a tournament, my very first one, and for some reason I remember asking to go in goal, because I think I wanted to be a goalkeeper?
“So, I went in goal, and we lost our first game 5-0, and I was crying in the car on the way home saying I’d never go in goal again!
“I then went to play for East Preston, where my dad was coaching, because I really wanted to play for a boys’ team.
“At that point my dad was also being helped a lot by Richie Selleck who I remember always brought so much energy.”
Next up on Hack’s grassroots journey came Rustington Otters.
“That was definitely where I played most of my grassroots football,” remembers Hack, “and I just remember the boys being so protective over me - I had nine bodyguards there!”
However, whilst the young Hack would have been content to continue playing with the boys and getting her grassroots footballing education, her next chapter on the pitch lay elsewhere.
Soon the talented young defender would catch the eye of Brighton & Hove Albion.
“I had a school teacher at Littlehampton Academy, Kim Whitcombe, who at the time played for Brighton,” said Hack, “which was great because we would just talk about football all the time.
“And one day she invited a scout to come to one of our school games. Luckily, she didn’t tell me, so I was able to just relax and play my game.
“It wasn’t until after the match I knew anything about it, when the scout came up and invited me to come along for a trial.
“I really didn’t want to go, because I didn’t want to play girls football, but thankfully mum and dad convinced me to go and try it out.
“Almost as soon as we started, I remember thinking ‘wow okay these girls can actually play’.”
“Some time went by, and then one day I remember being upstairs and hearing a scream from my mum, so I ran down and saw her standing there screaming at me telling me I’ve got in!”
Yet whilst Hack had got in, she still had to overcome the dreaded first day.
“I think I had mum drop me off two hours early, because I was so terrified of being late, so I remember just sitting in the car for ages, with mum just trying her best to calm my nerves.