Friday, 7 March 2014

Oxford United WFC midfielder and ex-Arsenal Academy, Reading and Millburn Magic player-Kayleigh Hines, talks to SOTB about the new season.

Q. How are you looking forward to new challenge of the FA WSL as a player and as a club?

Obviously it's exciting for the club, just because it's new to everyone. I think that we've prepared in the best way that we can and we're half-way through pre-season now. And then personally, I'm just excited about the challenge that lies ahead really. It's a new club for me as well and I'm just really excited about what's to come in the season ahead.

Q. Are there any teams you see as rivals in your league?

I think obviously Doncaster coming down from what was WSL 1 last year will be tough, because they've got the experience. To be honest, with everyone else I think it's going to be new to pretty much every other club in there. You hear who clubs have signed, so you're aware of some people. Obviously Reading are in it as well, which I guess is going to be our local derby. I don't think the clubs have met – certainly not for a couple of years anyway – in a competitive fixture, so that will be a big one.

Q. What's the atmosphere like around the changing room? Are there any natural leaders or lively characters that get the squad hyped up for games?

I think there's a good mix, to be honest. That's one of things I've noticed as pre-season has gone on, that there's a good balance amongst the girls and different personalities at the right times. Just judging on some of the pre-season games that we've had, there's definitely a lot of character in the changing room, so it's lively and I think that'll be important going into the season.

 Q. Aside from football, do you study or work?

I'm a trainee dental nurse at the moment and I've just recently taken an exam. I work full-time at a dental practice and I get my results next week, so hopefully when I'm fully qualified I can go on and do that. That keeps me busy when I'm not playing football.

Q. How do you find it juggling your time between full-time work and football?

It is tough to balance it with football. I knew it was going to be a big commitment coming into it anyway, but it works at the moment. Obviously it occupies the majority of my evenings, but as I say, it was a commitment I was aware of and I want to play at this level, so I know that that's what it takes.

Q. you're still only young, but what does the distant future hold for you Kayleigh? Would coaching football interest you?

Well I hope I've still got a few years left in me! I have done a bit of coaching before anyway, so that's always an option for the future. But for me personally, my priorities are getting fit for the season ahead, staying fit for that and getting a good few games under my belt really. I hope to do really well and promote the game for Oxford as well.

Q. With the second tier being created for the FA WSL and more matches being shown on TV, positive steps are happening in women's football. How does this feel for the players to finally see the game developing more and being invested in?

It's important as there was a lot of comparison before to the men's game and it seems that now it's starting to be looked at as its own sport. Obviously, running in the summer means that there's a lot more opportunity for people to actually see games and we've got games on TV as well.

And of course all the set-ups that all the clubs seem to have now and with players coming through the age groups, that's really important too. So definitely publicity-wise it's really good for everyone. Everyone at the club here does a really good job of promoting the game, and at all of the other clubs as well, which is going to be important next season too.

Q. Who do you see as your football idol/hero?

That's a tough one! I don't know, there are a lot of players. I watch a lot of men's football anyway, so there are certain players in the game at the moment. I am actually a Man United fan, but I guess I look to players that play in the same position as me and what they do. So obviously Jack Wilshere at Arsenal, Coutinho at Liverpool – sounds terrible coming from a Man United fan. But when I watch men's football I just look at the players that play in my position.

Q. And finally, what advice would you give to any young aspiring footballers?

There's so much opportunity out there now, so it's very important to just get involved really. If you enjoy it, that's the main thing. And as I say, with all the set-ups and everyone who puts in all the time and effort and money into girls' and women's football at the moment I feel like it's the perfect time to become involved and just get amongst it really.

Oxford United WFC will be playing in the first 2014 FA WSL fixture at home to London Bees on the 14th April. This date will also mark the first time professional women's football has been played in Oxfordshire.

Thanks for your answers Kayleigh, good luck for the coming season.