Daily Cannon spoke exclusively with Frances Steele, the Arsenal Ladies reserves Captain, who has just announced that she will be leaving the club to study in the USA at Yale University.
Fran played 21 games and scored four goals in the 2014/15 season with the reserves and played 20 games and also scored four goals in 2013/14. She was also an important member of the u17 squad that won the FA Girls Youth Cup 2012/13 alongside the now first team players Carla Humphrey, Leah Williamson, Vyan Sampson and Taome Oliver. She was runner-up in the 2011/12 FA Girls Youth Cup as well.
How did your move to Yale came about?
Whilst studying for A-Levels at Sixth Form, I had to start thinking about which University would allow me to combine high-standard football, with good academic qualifications. I had heard a lot about Yale, so I looked more into the set-up there and was really drawn to what they could offer.
Did you have football trials?
There were no trials – I had to put together a resume of my football career with Arsenal and England. Fortunately, Yale had a contact who had seen me play for England u17s/u19s, along with video footage from these games. This allowed them to make a decision that way. I also had to take some exams and meet some pretty strict academic requirements.
Were you tempted to stay and study in England rather than go to the USA or were the opportunities more interesting over there?
I considered combining football and study in England but most English Universities are not geared up to combine sport and study in the same was as in America. To pursue the type of degree I wanted, together with travelling to training etc would have been quite stressful. My fear was that in spreading myself too thinly, I would underachieve at both aspects.
What will be your main subject to study? Is it a three or four year course?
I will be studying a Liberal Arts degree, which takes four years. It’s very broad initially and I will study a variety of subjects but I’m thinking of majoring in Biomedical Science as I have an interest in Sports Medicine.
Do you think you will try to find a job back in England straight at the end of your studies or try to make it as pro-footballer in the USA or in England?
I intend to go to the USA and take every opportunity to develop to be the best player I can be. After that, if the right opportunities come along then I would consider a professional career out there. However, as it stands now, I would be more likely to consider playing for a WSL team back in England. If necessary, I would put my academic career on hold for a few years to do this.
What are your best memories from all those years at Arsenal Ladies?
I have had the best years of my life at Arsenal Ladies – I developed a lot as a player and have met some of my best friends there. Scoring in the last few minutes of the semi-final vs. Aston Villa for the u17s to put through to the FA Youth Cup Final was a moment I’ll never forget.
But winning the League and Cup double twice, with amazing team-mates and coaches has to top off everything. I was also very grateful to have captained the Reserves last season, wearing the armband for such a prestigious club was a great honour.
I am very grateful to Arsenal for being so understanding about my decision, and even letting my train up until I leave. I’d like to think I could play for them again in the future.