Mia Lockett: Loving Life At Dons

In the latest in our series of interviews with this season’s Impetus-sponsored players, AFC Wimbledon‘s Mia Lockett speaks to Ben Gilby about her footballing journey, and what life is like at the Dons after joining this summer (13/10/22).

Above: Mia Lockett in action for AFC Wimbledon during their pre-season friendly with Ipswich Town at Plough Lane. Photo: Glyn Roberts.

AFC Wimbledon are a team who have been consistently pushing for promotion from the FA Women’s National League Division One South-East for several years. In summer signing Mia Lockett, the Dons have added a pacey attacker to their armoury in their bid to finally make the step up to tier three.

Mia describes herself as “as tenacious, hardworking, and direct. My game has always been about directness, beating defenders but also having the mindset to win the ball back. When given the opportunity to take players on it’s a no-brainer for me however I know this comes with confidence.”

Wimbledon’s new signing caught the football bug at an early age, as she explains: “I feel like my induction to the game was heavily influenced by my brothers and my dad. We have always been a sporty family. Two of my brothers play football to really good level, so it’s always been in me to play football competitively. 

Above: Mia Lockett (right) on a trademark pacey run along the flank. Photo supplied by: Mia Lockett.

“My journey started out at Crystal Palace Ladies U10s. My dad took me to the trials at Crystal Palace Sports Centre. I never forget how nervous I was, but when I started playing, I just let the football do all the talking and I was successful. Being the chatty 10-year-old I was, I got talking to a coach at Palace who actually recommended my dad to get involved, who at the time had bundles of experience already from coaching my brothers’ teams.

“Palace approached my dad and the rest was history! Six leagues won, double figures in cups, and three tours completed and won! My dad managed and coached me from 10 years old to the age of 16, the age I broke into the first team at Palace. I’m really grateful for all the years of commitment and things he taught me along the way, helping me then, and still now, with my footballing journey.

“A special mention also goes out to Dean Lock. My dad, Ricky Lockett and Dean coached alongside each other for a few seasons, I don’t think there was a season we didn’t win silverware. I still do a few sessions with Dean here and there… when he’s not fishing!

“All of my brothers and my other half, Will, have played a major part in my journey, helping me with getting to games also and just being there on the sideline supporting me in keeping my head up regardless of the result. I am a strong believer in people who you surround yourself with off the pitch. They affect your game just as much as on the pitch, something I’ve definitely learned in the last couple of seasons.”

Having made her senior debut for Crystal Palace at the age of 16, Mia went on to enjoy some incredible experiences. “I went on to make my league debut and played in an FA Cup Quarter Finals debut against Brighton and Hove Albion. A game which I will never forget. Unfortunately, whilst I was getting more minutes at Palace, coronavirus was worsening forcing everyone’s season to an end.

Above: Mia in action for the Dons earlier this season. Photo supplied by: Mia Lockett.

“In the middle of lockdown, I had a transfer approach from Tottenham Hotspur. I didn’t rush into any commitment straight away with Spurs however the thought of full-time football for me was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss. Season 21/22 I signed. 

“Spurs was an experience I’ll never forget. I met some great players and also got coached by great coaches, one being Laura Kaminski. After my season came to a close at Spurs, I wanted minutes in consistent first-team football. For me, I felt like this was the best decision, and here I am at the Dons.”

Having spent her formative senior football years at clubs in the top two tiers of the game, Mia was able to train alongside and see some quality players.

“I had spells at Palace with the likes of Ashlee Hinks and Amy Taylor, both of who I’m teammates with now at Wimbledon. At Spurs, I was normally in the under-23’s set up however we did have a few first-team players come down to train us and get involved. The likes of Rebecca Spencer and Ria Percival were normally heavily involved. I was gutted I never got to meet Alex Morgan to be honest! Alex is a footballing idol of mine as I feel like she has always been a major figure not only in women’s football but sports in general for women.”

Despite being in the early stages of her career, Mia has still had to face and overcome challenges, and difficult ones at that. “I am only still 20 years old, so I know there may be more obstacles to come over in my career however one of my lowest points in football must’ve been not playing for a while.

Above: Mia in possession for AFC Wimbledon at Dulwich Hamlet. Photo supplied by: Mia Lockett.

“It really affected me mentally as football is all I’ve known for the last decade, however, I feel like with the more minutes, opportunities, and training I get under my belt my confidence is rising again. It’s a new chapter now.”

That new chapter started with a summer move to AFC Wimbledon. Mia explained how it came about, and what life is like at the club. “My summer move to Wimbledon came about through Kev (Kevin Foster, head coach) contacting me. I had a few offers lined up on the table, however, after meeting the coaches, and knowing a few of the girls, I thought Wimbledon would be a really beneficial move for me.

“I’m loving Wimbledon right now. The girls are great and you can really see how dedicated everyone involved with the club are about pushing it to do better. On the pitch, I feel like with minutes, I have much more to offer, however everything comes with timing, we have a long season ahead and I’m excited to see what the future holds for the club overall.”

We ended our first chat of the season with Mia identifying her personal and team goals for the campaign. “I want to be happy and confident whilst playing my football, enjoying every opportunity given to me. I have a few goals which I’ve written down that I would like to achieve.

“In terms of the team’s ambitions overall, everyone knows were pushing for promotion, to be in a league we deserve to be in. As a team, we really want to show everyone what we’re about and hopefully, we can accomplish this.”

Above: Mia Lockett, sponsored by Impetus. Photo supplied by: AFC Wimbledon.

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