In our second exclusive interview with one of the Arsenal Ladies big talents from the youth set-up, this time we speak with the u17 captain, Laura Hooper.

She has captained the Arsenal Ladies u17 team to the League and Cup double. Laura is a box-to-box attacking midfielder, who scores important goals from long range and make runs from midfield, very similar to Frank Lampard.

Can you tell us how and when you started to play football and when did you join Arsenal Ladies ?

“I started playing football when I was seven years old, kicking the ball around whilst watching my older brothers football matches. I got encouraged to join a local girls side where I played a year up, and here is where I realised that football is the sport for me. I then joined Watford academy at the age of nine to progress to the next level and that’s really when football started to become a major part of my life.

“I joined Arsenal Ladies in 2012 as an older u15 and have recently progressed into the reserves signing a contract for the upcoming season. I am lucky enough to play for the team I have supported all my life and be picked to represent my country, which is always an honour. 

How would you describe your role as captain of the U17 side ?
“It was an absolute honour to captain such a talented gifted bunch of girls last season. Motivating and encouraging the girls was one thing I didn’t need to do as every single member of the team was dedicated and committed to winning and training to the best of their ability every session.
“We bonded very well as a team on and off the and pitch which I believe had a major impact in us being as successful as we was last season. We were all willing to sacrifice ourselves for the team as we all had the same goal and ambition which was to win the league and be youth cup champions.
“I feel I set a good example throughout the year being captain especially to the younger girls at the beginning of the season making them feel welcome and picking people up when the game wasn’t going in their favour. I had a great vice captain Anna Filbey along side me and together I feel we lifted the team and set the tempo / standard at training to match arsenals expectations.
You had a very successful season for club and country, how pleased are you with the double and the world cup qualification ?
“We were very successful as an team last season but also as a club winning the FA youth cup, the Development cup and the Women’s FA cup. I’m thoroughly pleased to have captained the team to winning the double but it wouldn’t of been possible without the hard work and commitment of the girls. The group have been incredible and I couldn’t of picked a better bunch of girls to captain last season.
“We had a first class set of staff which supported and pushed us throughout the season potentially being the reason behind our success. World Cup qualification …
Words can’t even explain how pleased I am, it’s a real dream come true and something I’ve always wished for as a kid. To get the opportunity to represent my country at a World Cup  is mind blowing and the girls at England are much like the ones at Arsenal, first class, committed and willing to work 100%.
“The quality and standard of the girls is unbelievable with everyone pushing and fighting for spaces and I feel we have every chance of being successful out in Jordan.
Are you looking forward to the tournament in Jordan (if selected of course) ?
“Yes of course, representing my country at a World Cup would be a childhood dream come true. I’m working very hard at the moment balancing school work with my football. My life at the minute consists of football education and fitness on a continuous cycle and the dream one day is to play football professionally. 
“Sacrifice is a major part of a footballer and as you can see the hard work does eventually pay off seeking the rewards of qualifying for an u17 World Cup. Being drawn North Korea Nigeria and Brazil in the group is amazing as we will be facing 3 world class opponents which will be a great test for us as a group as I believe we are ready.
“You’ve got to beat the best to be the best. We have a world leading set of staff behind the scenes which will put us in an unbelievable position arriving at Jordan in September.
What your best memories so far at Arsenal Ladies ? Over the 3 years I’ve been at Arsenal there have been some unforgettable moment and games that will stay with me my whole life.
“Winning the league and FA youth cup at u17 level for two years in a row is incredible and being able to captain the side last year to this victory is amazing. Being able to play along side two incredible teams is a big privilege but the key highlight of my Arsenal career so far was scoring in the cup final, in front of my nan and grandad which was there first game they’ve watched me play for Arsenal and then lifting the cup on my mums birthday is always going to be a special moment that will live with me forever. 

And the final question will be about your Arsenal Ladies team-mates

Who is the:

Best Trainer? Taylor Hinds

Worst Trainer? None, everyone gives 100%

Most Skilful? Lauren James

The Joker? Grace Neville

Fastest? Jess Ngunga
Most Intelligent? Ellie Perkins

Best dancer? Tinaya Alexander

Worst Taste in Music? Shannon Cooke

Laura is a level-headed youngster and this interview shows that there is a lot of hard work to find a right balance in her life with school, club and international football.

Training and travel takes a lot of time for the girls and their parents.

I know many of them travel all over the world and dedicate a lot of their time to watch their children play.