Katie Rood: Lewes FC, Juventus memories and the development of women’s football

You signed for Lewes FC Women in 2019 following a loan spell. How are you enjoying your time at the club so far and how would you describe as club such as Lewes FC Women?

It is really interesting I first came across Lewes FC Women when I was working full time in New Zealand their Equality FC Campaign went viral on social media and I saw it and my reacted was wow!, it made so much sense, I want to play for a club like that. At the time they were in the third division and I thought that I could set my sights a little bit higher and I ended up at Juventus FC Women so it was probably the right move at the time.

Things had come full circle and the time was just right to come to Lewes and they are a great club. The biggest thing for me are the social values that the club has because they are a community owned club and because they are are big on equality and way the club treats their female team it is really empowering to be a part of it and to see the difference it makes in the community, not just in the community of Lewes but also the global community in general. We have supporters from all around the world and they connect with our message and it has also helped me to find my feet and find my own message to share and be confident in doing that and not being afraid to speak out and become a leader. The football is also great.

Credit: James Boyes

I believe that the WSL is one of the best leagues in the world, it is so competitive and the FA Women’s Championship is growing as well. The more resources and time and money put into the league will help the league to flourish. Lewes is a great place to be and I feel that I am at the right place at the right time at the moment.

You lead me nicely on to my next question. You mentioned Juventus FC Women. How do you look back on your time in Italy playing for one of the biggest clubs in world football and do you have any highlights or special memories

I would say that the best way to describe my time in Italy with Juventus would be a steep learning curve. You can’t turn down an opportunity to play for a club like Juventus. and to be playing my club football in New Zealand before then and going all the way to the other side of the world to play in Italy was special. It was a real eye opener to come to a country like Italy and live there and be part of the culture and tradition of Juventus. It was also really challenging for me because it was so different everything that I grew up and everything that I knew.

In terms of football it was incredible. One of my biggest highlights was watching a Champions League match live. In New Zealand you wake up at 6am and sit on the couch wrapped in a blanket watching football and to be in the Juventus Stadium watching Juventus v Real Madrid and I saw right in front of me Cristiano Ronaldo score that bicycle kick and then whole stadium stood up and applauded was amazing. Another highlight was getting to train at the new training centre that they had built for the men’s team.

They needed teams to try it out and make sure that it was up to scratch so we got to train there for a few weeks and it was really cool to use their world class facilities too. It was challenging not getting the amount of game time that I felt I deserved but it was always a super hard competitive environment but I look back with pride on being at one of the biggest clubs in world football.

Credit: James Boyes

You have been caped by your country of New Zealand. How do you look back on representing your country and do you have any special memories or highlights?

I have always had a really interesting relationship with New Zealand football in that I knew from a young age that I wanted to play for New Zealand but I did not really mind what sport that was, I played rugby, hockey and I eventually choose football at the age of 18 but I committed to it with the prospect of going to the under 20 World Cup in Germany and then I went on to be in the squad for the Women’s World Cup in 2015 and then I sustained injuries and that curtailed my progress into the first team.

I also did not receive the guidance that I needed at that time. I then had a period of seven – eight years of trying to break into the New Zealand squad and working really hard during training and it was not until I signed for Juventus that I got the opportunity to be capped which was an interesting experience playing against the United States but the time I got on the pitch there was only one minute to go which was a bit disappointing because I had waited all that time to get there and play for the New Zealand senior team. It has opened up doors to for me to come and play my football in England but in turn being on the other side of the world I do not have a lot of interaction with my international teammates and they team is already picked before you enter the national team camp and it is a very hard to make a significant impression and push on forward into the first team especially with the experience that we have in the squad.

So it is a constant challenge and it has helped me realize that focusing on my day to date and performing with my club is important and if I can be capped by my country then that would be a huge privilege. Club football is the right thing for me at the moment and we will see what happens in future but it would be fantastic to play for the New Zealand national team in future ”

You have accrued experience in England, Italy and international level could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside so far in your career?

Credit: James Boyes

Yes, It is actually hard to pick because I have been fortunate to play with so many great players during my career so far. I spent some time playing for Lincoln Ladies in 2012 and we had an excellent team. We had the likes of Casey Stoney, Lucy Staniforth ,Sophie Bradley-Auckland,Jessica Clarke, Remi Allen, Martha Harris, and all these are players who are now dominating the WSL so that was a really great experience.

In terms of the New Zealand national team Abby Erceg has shown that she is consistently a top class defender with how she is currently playing for North Carolina Courage in the United States and my mate Erin Nayler of Bordeaux and New Zealand in goal is also a top class player.

I can imagine in your position as a striker that you have come up against some very difficult opponents through the years. Are there opponents that stand out for you in terms of talent and ability?

Credit: James Boyes

Yes of course, I remember when we played Canada recently and Kadeisha Buchanan who also plays for Olympique Lyonnais in France was immense. He is so athletic and calm on the ball. I was playing as a number nine and I could just not get near her and every time I got close to the ball she was there and she proved really hard to play against. In Italy Cecilia Salvai of Juventus and the Italian national team is technically one of the best defenders I have ever seen, she can read the game really well. She is an incredibly gifted player. Those players are in my top two in terms of most difficult opponents I have faced.

Finally Katie, Could you say who are the coaches and managers that have meant a lot to you and who have played a key role in your development as a professional footballer so far in your career?

I have been really fortunate to have played under a lot of good coaches in my playing career so far. My first coach was Anne O’Brien from Liverpool ( Who was my best friends Mother ) Although I was one of the most talented players in the team she kept me in check and she also gave me good advice and to keep at it and keep doing a good job and she helped really to develop my game.

At youth level Adam Hayne was my coach who is now coaching in America. He coached me from the age of 12 to 17 and they were really fundamental years in my development. John Herdman who previously coached the Canadian Women’s team he was the New Zealand coach at the time and he included my in squads and he showed a lot of faith and belief in me as a young player and he moved on before I got the chance to play under him. I really liked the fact that a coach of his caliber appreciated my talent and that is something that really stuck with me.

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