I was able to speak to Reading FC Women star Lauren Bruton earlier today, about the past, present and future of her career as well as women’s football in general. Thanks to Lauren for taking the time to do so, and hopefully there’s more interviews to come over the next few months in the close season!
- OA = Olly Allen
- LB = Lauren Bruton
OA: How did you first get into football and who/what inspired you to do so?
LB: I first got into football when I was around eight years old, playing at school with the boys. I started playing for a girls side at around the same time, through one of my friends, whose dad ran a football team and asked me to join. I got interested in the sport through watching the boys at school, so I was pleased when the opportunity came up to play for my friend’s team.
OA: Which male footballer would you say that you were most like?
LB: I’d probably say someone like Alexis Sanchez, I like running at players and work hard for 90 minutes -technically not too bad [laughs]. Just the 1 v 1 situations, driving at players and taking them on.
OA: You started your professional career at Arsenal, what was it like to play in a team that were so dominant in women’s football at the time?
LB: It was really good, a great experience for me as a player, growing up as obviously I started with Arsenal at the age of 16, meaning I was still very young. It was a huge learning curve for me when I reached the first team, playing with likes of Rachel Yankey, Kelly Smith, training with them every day. It helps you mature a little bit, playing at the that intensity and watching them play in training. It gave me a little more experience, so when I started getting game time, knowing how professional they are seeing the quality you need to play at that level.
OA: Why the switch to Reading in 2013?
LB: I moved to Reading because I unfortunately ruptured my ACL and tore my cartilage when I was on loan at Barnet, so had to have an operation. I went back to Arsenal and was still training with the first team, but obviously I’d been out for a year and needed game time, which I wasn’t going to get at Arsenal. Jayne Ludlow [ex-Arsenal midfielder] retired that year and decided to become manager of Reading FC Women, so she decided to sign me up. So it was mainly because I wanted to play but obviously she was moving on and I had faith in her because she’d done all my rehab for my injury so I decided to go along with her.
OA: You’ve got six goals already this season, did you set any targets at the start of the campaign?
LB: Because I got 14 goals last season, I aimed to get 20 this season. As long as I get to around 15 or 20, that’s my target, but for the season, just to get promoted is my main goal, both for the team and myself. If get 15 or 20 goals along the way then that would be great!
OA: Reading are top of the WSL2 at the moment, do you think you can stay there and what would it mean to get promoted to the top flight?
LB: For the football club, it would mean a huge amount, especially for Kelly [Chambers], because she’s been with the club for god knows how long so she’s got them to where they are now, and worked really hard to get them into the WSL2 last season. It would mean a huge lot to her, and a huge lot for the players, because obviously you want to be playing at the highest level and playing in the WSL1 would mean facing top international players. I do think we can stay top and get promoted, purely because we have a really good top quality squad, not just a good starting 11, but a whole quality squad. If we can keep carrying on the way we finished the end of the first half of the season, then we should 100% get promoted, whether we come first or second in the table.
OA: Your team-mate Fran Kirby is away with England at the World Cup at the moment, just how good a player is she?
LB: She’s a huge asset to the team, and we haven’t had her for about a month and a half now because she was injured before she went to the World Cup. When I first joined the club, I did know her, and I had played with her before, and to train and play with her week in week out is great. She is a very good player and you can see why people are expecting her to do well at the World Cup. She has been performing very well at the World Cup, and that’s the player that I and everyone else at the club knows. We are really lucky to have her in our team. Training and playing with her, the intensity she plays at, as well as her quality, is fantastic.
OA: You’ve played for England’s youth teams yourself and won tournaments, do you feel you are ready to join Fran in the senior team?
LB: Yeah, of course, I played for the Under 17s and Under 19s, and currently play for the Under 23s, so I have worked my way up. Hopefully in the next couple of years I’ll be there, that’s what I’m aiming for as a long term goal, but right now my attention is with Reading and getting promoted to the WSL1. Then obviously if we get promoted, we get a chance to play week in week out against top international players, which will help me as a player.
OA: Women’s football in general has come on leaps and bounds recently, why do you think that is?
LB: Just the investment that the FA have made and put into the sport, and all the social media and advertisement of the women’s game. The WSL is growing and pushing on a little bit more. Especially at younger age groups, it is one of the highest sports that people are playing now [women’s football is the fourth most played sport in the UK]. Looking at the social media, it’s aimed more towards the younger generation, and I think if this continues we are going to get more girls playing the sport and watching the sport. The quality of the sport at the moment, as you can see at the World Cup, has improved massively over the last five or ten years and that’s the reason more people are watching and starting to take note.
OA: Finally, what advice would you give to young players, especially girls, wanting to make it in football?
LB: If you’re enjoying the sport, just get involved! If you’re at a younger age, I would strongly advise playing for a boys side, purely because of the speed that they play at, the power, it does help you a lot growing up. As you can see now, the FA have pushed the age gap up for females to be playing with boys teams to 18 I think now, which I strongly agree with. That’s all I’d recommend: play with boys teams, test yourself and if you want to get to playing at the highest level, international level, then just really work hard.
Thanks to Lauren once again for taking the time to speak to me, you can check out her player profile here, or follow her on Twitter: @Brutonn