Local girl gets chance with the U's
The Oxford United Women team are pleased to announce that midfielder Sophie Baker has become the latest local girl to sign a deal with the club for the WSL campaign ahead.
Sophie,19 , has been with the club since she was in the under tens development side and has progressed through the system to become a valuable member of the first team squad this season.
Manager Les Taylor said:
“Sophie fully deserves her chance to impress in WSL2. She has been an outstanding prospect all the way up through the age groups. She has a great attitude, she works very hard for the team and just as importantly she listens and learns and wants to keep improving as a player.
“We are building a good young side for the season ahead with the emphasis very much on allowing our own players to get experience and to take their game to the next level. We think Sophie has every chance of doing that.”
Sophie began playing football at the young age of 5 for Abingdon Youth Boys followed by Saxton Rovers Boys, she then trialled and joined Oxford United at the age of 10 at the very start of the club’s new Centre of Excellence. Sophie progressed through every age group from under 12's to under 17s and then onto the WSL development team for 2 seasons.
“Playing for boy teams from the age 4 was normal for me, but when I reached the age of 10 I was worried that there would be nowhere else, so I was excited to see an advert in the Oxford Mail for the Oxford United Centre of Excellence.
“I was so excited to be able to play with girls like me and at such a high standard. So little 10 year old me, my mum and my dad travelled all the way to the trials together. I was so nervous. I just remember seeing my future coaches stood there with a clipboard judging my every move! I wanted to prove myself so much. I remember after every small-sided game I would catch my mum and dad sat up on the hill behind the fence giving me a thumbs up!!
“I got into the youngest age group in the first year of the new centre of excellence. Little did I know this was going to last 9 years.
“In my first season , I was given captaincy and won player of season, an award that was presented at a first team men’s match at the Kassam Stadium.
“The highlight of my under 12s and under 14s seasons was being selected for England trials and in my last season for the Centre of Excellence our under 17s team progressed to the quarter finals of the FA Cup, just losing out on penalties.
“The whole of the Centre of Excellence experience was brilliant! It allowed me to travel all over the country, team bonding in mini buses, making lifelong friends and helped me grow as a player.
“Stepping up to the development team was a massive shock! Having no upper age limit you’re confronted with players with years more experience and of all different shapes and sizes making the whole game much more physical.
“During this time I enrolled at our Football and Education Academy, where I got to train for two hours a day, Monday to Friday, with matches on a Wednesday. As a football lover this couldn’t have been better. Playing both development and academy football helped develop my confidence, technique and fitness. Being at the club every week day made it feel like home because you get the chance to develop positive relationships with the staff and fellow players. It’s always been hard work but such fun.
“At the end of the last development season I was thrilled to be asked to train with the ladies first team throughout the summer. I was over the moon to be asked to be on the bench for 2 games – just to be part of the set up was brilliant. Sitting on the bench for the 3rd time against Notts County on the 19th of August, I nearly passed out with excitement when Les said he was going to put me on for the final 7 minutes, as this was what I’ve been working towards since joining the club at the age of 10.
“What a fantastic early birthday present it was to be offered my first pro contract for the club that I love and that has been my whole life so far.”