We’ve been fortunate to catch up with Southampton Women‘s Kayleigh Tonks to chat about her experiences in youth football, the departure of Simon Parker and how it will feel to line up against her sister, Bekah Tonks, in the Hampshire Cup final next week.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m from Southampton and have supported Southampton since I was little. I’m playing in my first season for Southampton Women. I have played a few positions since I started playing football including left wing, right wing and striker, however, I think I most enjoy playing striker. I did initially play as a centre back from the age of 11 right through to joining Portsmouth but it was at Portsmouth where I became a striker.
Who was your biggest footballing inspiration while growing up?
I think my biggest footballing inspiration whilst growing up was my sister as I would watch her every weekend and this is what made me want to start playing. She started at a very young age so I’ve been watching her for a long time
Could you tell me about your experience at youth football?
I started playing at around the age of ten for my local team Bitterne Youth. I started off here as a centre back and really enjoyed it, however after spending two seasons here I joined my sister’s team Southampton Saints where we won the league two seasons in a row. I think my biggest highlight was playing at different stadiums including Bolton.
You are currently playing at Southampton Women, what is it about the club that you love the most?
I joined Southampton Women because I saw how well they were doing in games and the achievement of working their way up the leagues. I like their philosophy and their style of play and I enjoy playing with all the girls as they are all friendly.
With Simon Parker’s departure to Lewes. How did you feel when you found out the news?
When I first started, Simon was the first team manager and he gave me the opportunity to play with the first team. It was good to be in and around the first team and even getting minutes. When I found out Simon was leaving it was a surprise as the team was doing so well and he was the one who gave me the opportunities with the first team so I was a bit gutted, however I was happy for him as he’s a great manager so will do well at Lewes.
How has the team handled the transition from Simon’s departure on and off the pitch?
Everyone was gutted Simon had left but the team handled the transition well considering the length of time he had been at the club, this showed in the game after he had left where the team beat top of the league Keynsham Town this was apparent.
Southampton Women have recently secured a Hampshire Cup final place where you will take on Portsmouth Women. Is this a game that you feel you can win?
I think the game between us and Portsmouth will be a good as the team has done so well and everyone will be really up for it especially because it’s a rivalry. It’s a game the team can definitely win especially with them getting close to winning last time.
You are soon to face Portsmouth Women in the Hampshire Cup final. How will it feel going up against your sister, Bekah in the Portsmouth defence?
Until I joined Southampton Women we had always played on the same team so this will be the first time we have come up against each other which makes it more exciting.
So I guess that your family will be happy either way?
Yeah, this is one they will really enjoy!
What are your personal targets for the rest of the season?
I have many targets that I set for myself as I always want to improve so I think my main target is to get into the first starting line up and to keep scoring and developing each week.