A British teenager who has been playing in the top women’s league in Iceland has joined Lewes Football Club.
Nineteen year-old Sophie O’Rourke played for Grindavík until the end of the Icelandic season in September but has now signed for Lewes FC Women where her versatility will be highly valued. Although she prefers playing on the wing, she can also play at full-back. Sophie describes herself as “a fast player who works hard”.
Sophie, who will wear the number 20 shirt, was born in Reading on June 3rd 1999. She became interested in football at a very young age and used to play with her brother as she “always wanted to join in and liked being a wee mascot.”
She started playing for a boys’ team at the age of six. She then played for Reading Girls in a Sunday League before joining the Reading FC Centre of Excellence. After that, she joined Reading Women’s Development Squad and then got involved with the first team.
In July she joined Grindavík for first team match experience because her coach at Reading played football with a coach from Grindavík and knew there were opportunities for players of Sophie’s calibre in the land of fire and ice.
Sophie lived in Grindavík itself, which is a fishing town on the Southern Peninsula of Iceland. She stayed in a converted garage and, like the locals there, ate a lot of fish but admits she wasn’t tempted to try the Icelandic delicacy, fermented shark.
Sophie said the locals were very kind so it made the whole experience easy: “The Icelandic people were very friendly and made me feel welcome. They were very nice and made sure I had everything I needed”.
Even though, Sophie could only say a fewIcelandic words, such as ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘thank you’, her team mates spoke very good English so it wasn’t too difficult to communicate.
She said that playing for Iceland was a very rewarding experience but the weather could be challenging at times: “It was very cold in Iceland but I got a lot out of the experience as it was very competitive in the top league.”
She also found some time to explore the country as training was usually in the evening so she was free to roam during the day. Sometime she would go up to Reykjavik, or further afield. From September, she would go out and see the Northern lights in the sky and said she “never got tired of watching them”.
Sophie left Iceland in September when the season was coming to an end and had a trial with Lewes FC Women. She was keen to play for the Rooks because she wanted to launch her career in women’s football in England:
“I just wanted to set up my career and try to fight for a place in the team. I really want to make a name for myself.”
She was also drawn to Lewes FC because of its Equality FC campaign: “That was definitely part of the attraction. I think it’s great that a club can help support the women’s side as their support will help us achieve our goals for this season and, hopefully, a lot more clubs will join us and help grow women’s football even more.”
Sophie has a number of objectives in her new role: “On a personal level, I would like to achieve a regular place in the first team and help the team get some good wins, goals and assists. And I would like to help Lewes FC Women achieve a good finish in the table and would love to help take the team into the Super League.”
She said she has a strong work ethic and technical ability. She added that you can always improve your technical skills but your work ethic is something which is ingrained.
Her ultimate ambition is to play at the highest level of women’s football and challenge herself as much as possible.She would like to play at international level for England or Ireland (but doesn’t have an Irish passport as yet!)
Her greatest inspiration growing up was Frank Lampard as she supports Chelsea. She has always looked up to him as a great role model and leader, both on and off the pitch.
Even though Sophie loved playing in Iceland she said she was really happy to be coming back to play in England: “I am happy to be in a familiar climate as I am a bit of a wuss when it comes to the cold!”
Lewes FC Women play their next match at home at The Dripping Pan v Aston Villa Ladies on Sunday 18th November, kicking off at 2pm.