Freya Godfrey: ‘It was such a great experience to play at the Emirates Stadium’

Freya Godfrey is a rising star at Ipswich Town Women on a dual-registration agreement from Arsenal. At the age of 17, Godfrey made her Arsenal first-team debut in a pre-season match against Chelsea in the summer, playing alongside some of the world’s most talented players. As well as featuring for Ipswich Town and Arsenal, she has also represented England from U14 through to U19 level. I asked Godfrey about her time at Ipswich Town so far, making her Arsenal debut and more.

Freya Godfrey in action (Credit: Ipswich Town Women)

In September, you joined Ipswich Town Women on a dual-registration agreement from Arsenal. How would you assess your first few months with the Tractor Girls?

‘My first few months with the Tractor Girls have definitely been interesting. I’ve been in and out of the country on England duty and visiting universities in America, and I have even picked up a couple of niggles. That has meant I haven’t been able to play in as many games as I would have liked to this side of Christmas. However, the support I have received is incredible. Being voted player of the month by the fans was such an amazing feeling but I have to thank my teammates the most. They made it such a comfortable environment to come into and it helped me settle really easily and play the way I’m capable of playing.’

What has it been like being in-and-around a first-term environment and do you think this move will be important for your progression?

‘Being in a first-team environment has definitely been a challenge. I had some previous experience at Arsenal but being around it week in, week out has helped me grow so much. The physical side of things is certainly more demanding, and there’s a lot more off the ball preparation work I’ve realised I have to think about more. Ipswich is quite a young team but it’s also filled with experience which I try to use to help me develop and mature as a player and a person!’

You have represented England at U14 through to U19 level. Following the success of the Lionesses’ in the summer at the Euros, is that something you would like to emulate in the future?

‘Yes 100% – it’s definitely something I’ve thought about. My Mum and I were at the final and it was so inspiring to see how much it meant and it showed that it was possible. Since then, I’ve been on camps at St George’s Park, the home of all of the England teams, and it’s plastered everywhere! We’ve seen the girls around and it’s incredible to see and hear about the support they have received and what made them such a successful team. It is something every kid dreams about, it’s just incredible to see now that it’s actually possible and it has now happened.’

You have risen through the ranks at Arsenal and you are a part of the U21’s side. What do you hope to achieve in the long-term with the Gunners?

‘I think in the long-term the obvious dream for me, in the next couple years, would be to sign a professional contract with Arsenal, however, I know not everyone gets that opportunity. I will continue to work for it but if it doesn’t come then I won’t be disappointed, I’ll just continue trying to work on myself and my game and grow somewhere else. I believe everything happens for a reason and coaches know what they need and look for and if I can be that great, if not it’s just part of the learning process.’

In the summer you made your first appearance for Arsenal Women. How proud were you to feature in that pre-season friendly against Chelsea and what was it like being around some of the world’s most talented players?

‘It was such a great experience to play at the Emirates Stadium in a first-team environment. All the players were so welcoming and made it a comfortable environment to be in. Obviously, there were a lot of other academy girls there too which definitely helped and made it a much more special moment being able to share it with them. To come away with the win in front of quite a few fans – it was an experience of a lifetime which I’ll never forget!’

Even though you are at the beginning of your career, has there been one person who you have looked up to?

‘I think one person I looked up to a lot when I was younger was Neymar – his ability to play with such freedom and enjoy himself on the biggest stage always inspired me to want to achieve that. As I have got older and women’s football has grown, I’ve begun to look up to players such as Beth Mead, Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly as I feel like I can learn from them by watching videos, watching them live and seeing their mannerisms. Including how they approach 1v1 situations and their confidence in their abilities. I also like to see how they are off the pitch, how they conduct themselves and interact with fans as I feel that’s also a big part of the job.’

What are your goals for the future?

‘My goals for the future are hopefully to become a professional footballer. In the short term, I’d like to continue getting selected for the England U19’s side and be successful with them in the Euros and hopefully qualify for the World Cup. In the long-term, I’d love to be able to play in the WSL and represent England at senior level, I think that’s what I’ve always wanted and worked towards so I’m not going to slow down any time soon!’

A massive thank you to Freya Godfrey (@freyagodfreyy on Instagram) for making the time for this interview.


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