The Sophist Exclusive: Interview with midfielder Ashleigh Goddard

Having left the London Bees earlier this summer, Ashleigh Goddard has been on the hunt for a new club. Despite the search still continuing into the new season, the midfielder has no regrets over her decision to leave the Bees after three-and-a-half years, saying her ambition to play at the highest level was behind the move.

“I decided to leave London Bees because I felt the timing was right for a new challenge,” she told The Sophist. “I’ve always been ambitious, worked hard and been highly motivated to play at the highest level and felt that the timing was right for me.

“I quit my job as a secondary school PE teacher, told Bees of my ambition and moved out of my house – I have gambled for sure but am more of the belief that I would regret it if I didn’t even try.

“The next couple of years are going to be about playing at the highest possible level while getting adjusted to life as a full-time footballer. I want to work hard, progress as a player and hopefully help a team to great success. While happy to go abroad, I would ultimately like to play in the WSL1.”

“Overall, my time at Bees was positive. I loved being part of a team that worked hard to improve every year. Throughout the seasons we always had a great group of players with positive attitudes who wanted to finish higher in the league with every season – and did this successfully.

“I was born and raised in Barnet so playing for the club was special for me and being captain for one-and-a-half years was an honour.”

Goddard may not have a new club just yet, but she hasn’t been without offers over the summer. She revealed: “I went on a week’s trial with Yeovil which went well and was told they would like to sign me.

Ashleigh Goddard of London Bees. Pic: Serena Taylor/The FA/Getty Images

“While on a trial with Yeovil, I was offered the opportunity to play in a trial match for Liverpool against Blackburn. After that game I was invited to Germany for Liverpool’s preseason tour on an extended trial.

“It was a fantastic experience playing against SGS Essen & Bayern Munich, in which I was able to work at the level and intensity I believe will greatly improve me as a player.

“I was open and honest about this with the Yeovil manager who understood and supported my decision to go but also gave me an option if it did not work out at Liverpool.

“Unfortunately for me, the Reds’ pressing budget meant they prioritised a striker than a midfielder. Although it didn’t work out for me, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wish the girls the very best of luck for the season. They are a fantastic group of players & people with a great set-up.”

More bad luck was to follow, however, as Goddard found out that Yeovil signed a player in her position, ruling out the opportunity of a move. She’s now open to a move abroad, provided the club meets her ambitions.

Ashleigh Goddard battles with Billie Murphy of Sheffield. Pic: Christopher Lee/The FA/Getty Images

“(After Liverpool), my next move was updating Yeovil about the situation, only to find out that they signed a midfielder while I was away with Liverpool and no longer had a budget to sign me.

“With WSL1 clubs saying they are finished with their recruitment, I am now looking for options abroad. As long as it is at a high level and full-time professional, I am not too concerned about where in the world this may be.”

Goddard certainly has some impressive credentials. Her career started at Arsenal in her early days while representing England at youth level. She went on to play in the US on a full scholarship, NCAA Division 1 for DePaul University. Stints at Reading and London Bees followed.

The midfielder’s had some success this summer, featuring at the Neymar 5s Cup and representing England in Brazil after winning the National tournament.

“This was an incredible experience. There were many rounds for each country entering to find a team to represent the nation. Fortunately for us, we won the national tournament and were given the amazing opportunity to go to Brazil and compete in the Neymar 5s Cup.

“Sixteen nations made off for the Women’s section. We came second in our group and went through to face the favourites Brazil in the quarter final. Sadly, we lost 1-0 in a very close game and Brazil went on to win the tournament.”

Goddard is currently abroad and could have a new club confirmed in the coming days. She added: “I’m actually currently in Denmark checking out a team and should know by the end of the week whether I will sign for them or not.”

Thanks to Ashleigh for speaking to The Sophist. We wish you all the best this season.

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