'Football has been so good to our family'

Danny Cowley giving the crowd a thumbs-up
Danny Cowley says watching his children compete in sport is his "favourite time of the week" [PA Media]

The daughter of the head coach at Colchester United said kickabouts with her dad during lockdown helped propel her to international football.

Teenager Isabella said her dad, Danny Cowley, would coach her at their "football crazy" family home in-between online school lessons.

The youngster is now set to fly out to the Netherlands to represent the England Women's under-15s side on Sunday.

Mr Cowley said watching his children compete in sport was his "favourite time of the week".

The football coach said that lockdown gave him more time with Isabella and her younger brother, George, than he had previously had.

Mr Cowley arrived at Colchester United in January alongside his brother, Nicky, to manage the side and helped to save the them from being relegated to the National League.

Isabella and Danny Cowley on a Zoom call
Isabella joked her dad "likes to be critical" with his coaching [BBC]

Isabella was recruited into Chelsea Football Club's academy in 2023, having once played for the Chelmsford-based side Baddow Spartak.

She told BBC Essex that her talent thrived thanks to sessions held on the family lawn.

"We were just in the garden all the time - any free time we had we were always training," the budding footballer said.

"Sometimes [dad] likes to be critical with me to get the best out of me, but it's definitely good - he helps me."

Mr Cowley, who taught PE for 15 years at the FitzWimarc School in Rayleigh, Essex, called it "tough love".

He added: "Because of my job, I'd never been able to spend as much time coaching and helping her as I would've liked.

"Lockdown gave us a real good chance where we could take a really good run at it."

Danny Cowley smiling
Danny Cowley arrived at Colchester United with his brother, Nicky, in January [PA Media]

The head coach explained that Isabella had spent time at six schools while his management career took him across the country.

His CV includes time working with Lincoln City, Huddersfield Town and Portsmouth over the past eight years.

"It probably wasn't the life we anticipated for her or her brother, but ultimately this is the life we've got and we're trying to make the most of it, Mr Cowley added.

"Football has been so good to our family."

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