At the age of 19, plenty of teenagers across the UK are living away from home for the first time. For now, it is for university. But for Jorja Fox, she has moved to Brighton to play professional football, on a season-long loan from Chelsea.
“It’s my first time moving away from home, but it’s nice to only be an hour away and I can visit whenever I want. My friends and family can come down too so it’s nice. And Brighton is not a bad place to live!”
The defender is blessed with a coastal location in one of the UK’s most vibrant cities for the next 10 months, but it’s clear her main focus is developing herself at Brighton.
She finds herself under yet another legend of women’s football in Hope Powell, having trained under Emma Hayes since moving into the first team. It also follows a loan spell at Charlton last year, where she worked with Karen Hills.
“I had a couple of options in the WSL, but for me and for Chelsea, Brighton seemed the best fit,” Fox explained. “Playing under Hope was a big pull and I think it’ll make me a better all-round defender at the end of this loan spell.
“I’m settling in well, it’s taken some time, but I feel comfortable here now. The facilities are amazing and I can’t wait for Sunday now.
“It’s been a privilege playing under Emma and I’ve learned so much. But I always think it’s important to test yourself, get out of your comfort zone and coming here to Brighton, playing under a new manager, having to prove myself again, adapt to the different training styles, different managing styles, I think that’s going to be really important for me.
“Hope is a very well-respected manager and I hope I can get the best out of her, which I think I will because it’s been good so far and I’ve learned a lot.
“Last season, I played in the Championship and tested myself there in my first senior football league. Now it’s about taking a step up into the WSL and challenging myself against the best players in the world and in Europe. This year is a really important year in my development and I’m ready to take it by the scruff of the net and go for it.
“I really enjoyed my time at Charlton. It was good for me to get regular game time after a year and a bit at Chelsea not playing, but learning and training. So it was good for me to implement what I’d learned at Chelsea into senior football.
“For me, the main thing I learned was the physicality it takes to play at senior level. You’ve got to be tough, expect challenges, but hopefully I can bring that physicality into the WSL and use that to push on.
“I feel very privileged and I don’t take it for granted. Playing under three different managers who are all very highly respected, I’ve learned so much. I hope I can build on what I’ve learned from all three and use it to build and helped my development.”
Fox has made her way through Chelsea’s youth ranks, having joined the club at the age of eight. Her mum has previously spoken about taking her to the shops for a treat after her first trial, wondering what she had exposed her daughter to such was the talent.
“I remember the trails very well,” Fox reflected. “When I was younger, I was very low in confidence, I didn’t think I was very good, but my parents always backed and that’s why they took me to the Chelsea trials.
Jorja Fox on her career so far and hopes for the future
“I do need to sit back sometimes and reflect on what I’ve experienced, but sometimes, you can get caught in the moment, which is normal.
“Off the back of the season after Covid when I was quite heavily involved, I also signed my professional contract and I look back and it’s everything I ever dreamed of.
“I’m very grateful to be where I am but there’s still a long way to go to get to where I want to be in the end.
“For me, I want to play a regular part in a WSL team and win trophies. The goal is with Chelsea, that’s my ultimate dream. Then I’d love to play internationally, represent my country at the highest level.
“But for now, just focusing on this season and hopefully over the years, I’ll get to where I want to be.”
“It was the London Olympics when I was trialling and there were the Olympic mascots. So after each trial, they’d get me a new bit of merch with the Olympic mascots, so that was my motivation at the time.
“I’m very grateful for my parents because without them, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.
“As soon as I could walk, my parents had a ball with me wherever I’d go, whether that was a tennis ball, a football – we’d go on a walk and I’d have a ball with me, that’s what I enjoyed. I’d have a baby in one hand and a ball in the other.
“When I was about six, my dad took me along to a local training center where I played with boys for a couple of years. Then the next step was going into a competitive grassroots team, but my dad decided that he didn’t want me in that environment, he wanted me to keep developing and focus on that at that age.
“I tried out for a few clubs and I got into Chelsea and I’ve stayed there ever since and made my way through the ranks.”
Now, she is on the cusp of her Brighton debut as they host Aston Villa on Sunday at the Amex. The Seagulls have sold over 4,000 tickets for the match, more than either WSL games at the Amex last season.
“It’s a great occasion, playing at the Amex as well off the back of the Euros. It’s a big game against Aston Villa, but I think this team is ready. We’re excited to get started, hopefully there’ll be a good turnout and create the atmosphere and get off to a good start to the season.
“We’ve got some really good, experienced players in this team, like Dan Carter. I can learn a lot from them and so far, we’re gelling well as a team and we’ll learn a lot from each other as the the season goes on.”
The Amex was also the scene of two huge England victories during their victorious Euro 2022 campaign – an 8-0 group stage win against Norway and a 2-1 quarter-final victory against Spain. It serves as a reminder to the England youth players – including U19 international Fox – of what they can achieve with their country.
“The summer couldn’t have gone much better really,” Fox said. “Me, my family and friends, we really got into the Euros, went to most games and the atmosphere and buzz created by the fans was nothing like we’ve ever seen before.
“Hopefully that can carry on into the season and keep growing. What they did was such an inspiration and it’s opened the gates for the next generation to go and achieve what they achieved and hopefully more.
“It’s a privilege to play for my country and it always will be. We went to the U19 Euros this summer and that was a great experience, although it didn’t go how we wanted.
“We had a really talented group of players who will go a long way in their careers. We were probably one of the favorites going in but it was our first major tournament and we were very inexperienced in that aspect.
“It’s a great learning curve for us. We’ve been a team since the U15s so we’re very well connected and I wouldn’t have wanted to experience it with another team.
“But those experiences at youth level are so valuable and hopefully we can use them when we get to senior level and in more major competitions. It’s a great experience and really helps our development so hopefully, we can keep that going.”
How to follow the WSL on Sky Sports…
Sky Sports – All 35 games will be available across Sky Sports’ flagship channels, including Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event.
Sky Sports News – Running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Barclays FA WSL fans can enjoy Sky Sports News (channel 409) rolling editorial coverage of the league and its storylines throughout the season.
Inside the WSL – Hosted by award-winning broadcaster and journalist Jessica Creighton, Inside the WSL is a comprehensive round-up of all things Barclays FA Women’s Super League and women’s football. Airing weekly on Sky Sports Premier League, the half-an-hour show will review and preview matches, including in-depth analysis and exclusive player interviews. Viewers can expect gripping behind-the-scenes access as well as a summary of all the action both on and off the pitch.
Sky Sports Social – Alongside coverage and visibility for the league across all Sky Sports’ main social media channels, the bespoke Twitter channel @SkySportsWSL will continue to be the home of all Barclays FA WSL content on Sky Sports.
New to the 2022/23 season, the Sky Sports WSL TikTok account will be giving fans 360° coverage of the league and granting them exclusive access to their new favorite players. Also a first for the league, a new Snapchat Discover show The Dub aims to become the platform’s new hub for Barclays’ WSL content.
Sky Showcase – All Sky customers will benefit from being able to watch the opening weekend fixtures on Sky Showcase (channel 106) without a Sky Sports subscription. This channel is designed to curate some of the top shows, films and sports from across Sky’s channels.
Sky Sports digital – Follow all the latest from the WSL across SkySports.com and app, including exclusive features and interviews, plus dedicated live blog coverage and in-game clips from games live on Sky Sports. You can watch free match highlights from every WSL game this season on Sky Sports’ digital platforms and YouTube channel.