17-year-old midfielder Ava Kuyken will leave Arsenal for the Florida Gators with her new side saying she will bring ‘leadership qualities’ to the team.
The dual nationality teenager has agreed a deal that will see her play for Florida’s Gators, the team associated with the University of Florida, as Kuyken treads a well-worn path from Arsenal to studies in the USA.
This 🐊⚽️come from across the pond 🏴!
— Gators Soccer (@GatorsSoccer) November 23, 2018
Kuyken picked up her first team debut for Arsenal last season when she was just 16-years-old. She came on in the 80th minute against Watford in the Continental Cup, replacing Heather O’Reilly.
Kuyken made her league debut against Liverpool back in February and was a regular in the squad throughout the 17/18 season. In total, she made four appearances in her first season as a first-teamer.
The England u17 international is currently completing her A-Levels at Cherwell School in Oxford and will then attend Florida University.
The Gators play in Division 1 of the National Collegiate Athletics Association and the Southeastern Conference and are coached by Becky Burleigh who has been in the position since 1995. They won 13 of the first 16 SEC championships.
About the signing, Burleigh said, “Ava Kuyken was identified by [UF Associate Coach] Alan Kirkup, who saw her play multiple times. Another player with international experience as she has played with the U-17s, 18s and 19s for England. She has a really good feel for the game in terms of tactics. She plays very similarly to the way we play and also brings some leadership qualities to our team.”
Georgia Eaton-Collins, who was also with Arsenal’s development team, also plays for Florida. She seemed to be happy about the news: