The second instalment of our summer campaign sees the spotlight fall on current Soccer Scholar Leia Carter.
Leia is 21 and from Worcester, England. She earned herself a scholarship to study and play at the University of Mobile in Alabama back in 2018.
A confident and agile goalkeeper Leia’s inspiration is former England and Chelsea keeper Carly Telford. Telford herself is now playing in the States for NWSL side San Diego Wave.
Tell us about a time you faced an obstacle or challenge playing football as a female?
When I first started playing football, I didn’t know where to look or where to go. So I first played football at a multi-sports camp against boys who were all older and stronger than me. I was about 10 years old and I was obsessed with the sport after that.
How do you manage your time between school and football?
At college in America it is always education first! That’s why you are a student athlete and if you don’t pass you won’t be eligible to play. What I do with my soccer teammates is have a study session every other day where we will all go to the Library together before practice. We normally do the study session at 2pm and then we train at 3pm.
What sacrifices have you made in order to become a soccer scholar in America?
The biggest sacrifice would have to be not going to an Academy in the UK when I was younger. At 16 I looked at the likes of Birmingham City and Aston Villa, all places closest to me, but I chose to join a women’s league and play with women older than me. The level was very different but I feel like it toughened me up and I also feel like the level I am playing at now is very similar to that of a professional academy here in the UK.
How do you manage your nutrition, do you take particular care in what you eat?
So as a team we all eat together at the same place more or less every day. We don’t have a set nutrition plan but we are always given healthy options. Even on away trips, whether it be lunch or dinner we are given only healthy food options and it’s always eating as a team which is great.
Pre-game is always heavier on the carbohydrates though, that’s for sure. Personally I am trying to build more muscle too so I am eating more proteins too.
How do you manage your physical workload in training and matches when you are menstruating?
I always try to carry on and push myself, but if it ever gets too much, the coaches are very understanding and there is always that option to take a break for as long as I need.
I do take medicine before training to help reduce certain pains and I do drink a lot more fluids than normal.
What’s been the biggest culture shock for you going to America?
I wouldn’t say it was a culture shock, but where I am based in America Alligators are quite common and I actually came across one on campus.
Everyone took pictures from far, but security came and escorted it off campus! That only happened once though!
Being in America is an amazing unique opportunity that not many people can say they have experienced. The thing I like the most is being able to travel around. I travel with my team to play in new states every year and in Spring Break we spend all day on the beach relaxing.
What advice would you give to a female who may be a bit nervous about going to College in America?
I was definitely nervous about going to America, I thought maybe it was too big of a step at first, but it was such a life changing experience. Once I got off that plane and into the American lifestyle, I knew it was going to be an amazing four years. Friendships come easily within the team and those friendships will last a lifetime.
What is your ultimate goal in football?
I just want to take it as far as I can. I don’t want to push it too much so that I start to stop enjoying it. But I love playing and I will continue to do so to whatever level I reach.
Obviously the great thing about what I am doing now is I am training and playing full time, but I am also getting a degree to fall back on.