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Flo Allen: The University of Gloucestershire student and Bristol City Women’s star balancing football and education.

It’s currently a busy period in the life of Flo Allen.

Like most students halfway through March, the 21-year-old is snowed under with assignment’s to write, and a dissertation to finish, but on top of that work and pressure, Allen is just over halfway through the Women’s Super League season, where she bombs up and down the right-flank week in week out for Bristol City Women.

The Robins defender has cemented her place as a vital asset in the Bristol City squad and also one of the more experienced in the squad, as she comes towards the end of her fifth season at the club.

Despite playing in Bath and training in Bristol multiple times a week, Allen took the decision to make the move to Gloucester two years ago so she could be closer to her full-time education, where she studies sports business management on Oxtalls Campus at the University of Gloucestershire.

“It’s been really hard trying to balance a full-time degree with a football career,” said Allen.

“There are times of the year when you’ve got like five or six assignments due in space of like two weeks, and there are times when those assignments are due in when we’ve got games on, so it’s quite tricky trying to manage that.

“In terms of attending lectures, it’s pretty good. It’s actually probably easier now that they’re recorded online because if I miss them, I can just log on and watch whereas before if we were training and then I just missed the lecture.

“It was like a case of finishing training and driving straight up and getting to the Oxtalls Campus in time for lectures, but my lecturers are really understanding.”

When moving to the city of Gloucester, Allen had a picture in her head of being able to take a scenic walk to University, visit some sights, and try out some local coffee shops as she studies. Unfortunately, a certain COVID-19 halted that.

Despite the current circumstances, Allen has taken in her surroundings the best she can and has tried her best to keep up to date with all her local sport, as well.

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“In my first year of uni, I lived in Bristol with a couple of girls in the team. I was thinking about doing halls and doing that whole experience but I decided not to. I went up for the lectures twice a week because that was all I was doing in my first year. Second-year, I moved up to Gloucester because I probably knew I needed to be in the library a little bit more and I’ve been based in Gloucester ever since.

“I haven’t even been inside the cathedral yet which is probably the main attraction in Gloucester!

“Because of Covid, when we get days off at the moment, I’m limited to what I can do, so my days off consist of a lot of PlayStation and catching up on uni. I used to like to go and get a coffee on days off or just having a walk around when in Bristol.”

Since her time at university, Allen has tried her best to stay informed with all the local football teams, and she’s taken a fondness towards Forest Green Rovers.

“I keep an eye on them, I’ll don’t watch their games but I just love football, so I check to see how the teams are doing locally. I know Forest Green and Cheltenham are doing well at the moment,” Allen laughed.

Originally from Norwich, Allen moved to Bristol when she was 16-years-old to take on a side-by-side football and education programme with Bristol City Women. Growing up in the East of England, the 21-year-old says she got her love of football from her dad.

“I love football in general, so I always look and see who’s doing well and stuff, but I’m actually a really huge Norwich fan and that’s where I’m from originally. So I’m a Robin and a Canary!

“I started pretty young. I used to go and watch Norwich games with my dad from as early as I remember, my first game was at like five or six. I just love watching it. I watched on the TV, watched Match of the Day on a Sunday morning, it was great.

“My dad kind of got me into it and I joined just my local boy’s team and loved it.  I started playing with the Norwich girls, and I think I was in that system until I moved to Bristol at 16.”

It has been a season of up’s and down’s for the Robins this season, with the success story coming out of Bristol City being in the FA Continental Cup.

Coming up on Sunday, 14 March, the Robins travel to Vicarage Road to face Chelsea in the final of the competition. The cup final has lifted spirit’s around the club in a game that would be the highlight of Allen’s career so far.

“The mood around camp has been really, really good since the start of the year,” said Allen.

“We’ve obviously picked up results which is great, and when you’re winning, you come into training with a spring in your step and that’s something everyone bounces off. We’re winning, Ebony [Salmon] got her England call up and everyone buzzes off that and we’re finally being recognised.

“People just wrote us off, basically. They all said Bristol have got two points coming into the year, well, yeah, okay, We had two points, but we know, we don’t deserve to be in that position and now we’re really showing it, and everyone’s really buying into it.

“I’d say we are the closest team in the league in terms of our togetherness, everyone gets on with each other, and we will literally fight for each other which I think is showing on the pitch at the moment in terms of what the results were.”

When Monday falls, the 21-year-old could potentially be waking up a Conti Cup winner with a medal around her neck, however champion or not, it will be back to Gloucester, and back to the books for Allen.

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