TEB Interview – Freya Holdaway
Freya Holdaway is an ever-present in the Crystal Palace Ladies first team line up this season. Acting as a marshal in the middle of the pitch, her coolness in possession, vision and timely tackling has won many plaudits from on and off the pitch. We caught up with Freya who told us about her her life in football.
Q. As one of our most experienced players at Palace Ladies, how did you get into and progress in the game?
As a youngster I followed my older brother around. He began playing at the age of seven and I always went to watched him train and play. My father always encouraged me not to be shy and get stuck in, so I always used the spare balls and worked on my ball skills, albeit only three or five keep-ups to start with! When I reached the age of seven, I played in a local boys team. It was difficult at times being the only girl but I believe it made me stronger mentally.
I attended a girls academy in Mid-Wales from the age of twelve and at fourteenI began playing for a local women’s club. After a few successful years I ventured to the Arsenal Academy, I did my studies there and signed for Arsenal Ladies. Attending the Arsenal Academy opened up many doors for me. That opportunity allowed me to study and play at Marshall University, West Virginia in the USA. After my first year I was made captain and continued to lead the team for the next three years. As soon as I completed my studies, I returned to the UK where I joined the Palace Ladies.
Q. What has been the toughest challenge for you as a female in football?
The toughest challenge has been proving that men are not technically superior to female players. There is obviously a distinct physical difference between men and women but the theory that boys and men are naturally better players is something I totally disagree with. Proving my point has always been fun and I believe that after the 2012 Olympics and World Cup earlier this year, the public are taking notice of the quality of female players that are being produced.
Q. How do you see the progress of the game now? Is women’s football being given equal opportunities to men’s football?
Women’s football has progressed massively in the last five to ten years. There are more and more teams and clubs getting involved with the development of the women’s game. With the Women’s Super League and supporting structure in place with The FA, there is so much room for more growth. It is a very exciting time to be involved in the sport.
Q. A player with your abilities could have joined any club so why did you choose Palace?
Crystal Palace is a great club offering many teams at every level. Even though the structure at Palace is already fantastic, there is still massive potential for the club. Promotion is the number one target for the first team right now. I want to be a part of the growth and help the team achieve their goals.
Q. What makes Palace different to other clubs?
The intimacy of the club. Yes, it is a big club and in the Premier League for the men, however, you still feel part of the club as a whole. The way the club is, from the feeling at Selhurst Park to my role in the ladies team makes you feel close to the club. I enjoy the fans the most, the Palace fans are fantastic. We have regular fans who are season ticket holders for the men’s team but who also turn up week in and week out, come rain or shine to support us. With Palace Ladies becoming a more visible part of the main club, it can only be good for what we are trying to achieve.
Q. What are your strengths as a player both on and off the pitch?
I feel my strengths are composure and passion. I think this reflects both on and off the field. My composure has come through experience but my passion keeps me young. I think other team members would agree with me. My passion allows me to maintain a high level of desire and want for the ball, along with the desire to keep learning the game.
Q. What do you do for a living and does this clash with your commitment to football?
I am a fitness coach. It involves being a personal trainer, fitness instructor and an operations co-ordinator. I work shift patterns and some weeks this inhibits my ability to attend training. The positive side is that I have no excuses to not stay fit and healthy.
Q. What are your footballing ambitions?
To help Palace Ladies secure promotion and play at the highest level possible. I would love to get involved in coaching when I am working more suitable hours. Passing on knowledge of the game, in my eyes, is one of the best things you can give to younger players.
Q. Who is your favourite women’s player?
Kelly Smith (Arsenal and England – over 100 caps for her country and almost 50 goals).
Q. Which football team do you support?
Q. Who is your favourite player ever male or female player?
Freya will be a part of the action again this weekend as Palace look to progress in the FA Cup away at Denham Ladies. Join Freya and the team for Palace Ladies home games at Bromley Football Club as the team bids to make history this season.