Nadia Lawrence: Icelandic Dragon

On this website, we have seen a couple of Welsh footballers head over to Iceland to ply their trade. James Drobka talks to young Welsh women’s footballer Nadia Lawrence who currently plays out in Iceland for IBV.

nadia

Nadia, in the blue, in match action.

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself. 

A bit about myself?! I am 23, come from the Pembrokeshire in West Wales and come from a very sporty family. I have a degree in business and management and should graduate with a masters in sport sociology in September (touch wood)! No more education (seriously!!).

How did your move to IBV in Iceland come about? How are you enjoying your time there? 

The move to Iceland came about though Jarmo (Matikainen) the current Welsh Women’s National team manager. The opportunity was there and I took it. I went for a trial and that was that. I was playing at Cardiff City and for Cardiff Metropolitan University, I was really enjoying my time there and we had not finished the season yet, so it was a decision I thought about for a while and had to ask for a lot of advice about. But in the end I knew I would always think ‘what if?’ and the experience I am gaining now is most definitely valuable to my future as a player. I am training in a team environment nearly everyday now and I can already feel the benefits.

I am really enjoying my time now. The first 12 weeks were not so good. I kept getting injuries and was unable to play; so when you have to prove yourself and can’t play to your full potential or have to turn around and say to the coach you can’t play at all, even though it was the reason for me coming to Iceland, that was difficult and very frustrating for me. I felt useless. But I know a few players now with injuries which will take a lot longer to recover, so in that respect I count myself lucky.

Then I came back from injury and played three full 90 minute games in midfield in six days.  I loved it though!  I scored my first goal so I was happy. Midfield is a new position for me having played the number 9 position or wing for Cardiff Met and Cardiff City, but I am really enjoying playing in the midfield and learning the role.

My personal aim here is to simply work hard and ensure I go home a better player. Development is always my aim because I see the player I want to be. The experience I am getting has already developed me as a player. Both physically and mentally. I think I am learning not to be such a confidence player now do am maybe more consistent in my performances. if I done something wrong sometimes my head would go down, now I am learning when a training session or something in a game didn’t go as I hoped, to just put it right next time.  I am starting to feel better in training as my fitness is coming back, this last week especially. I still have some way to go but I am doing my best to be sensible and build my fitness gradually.

There’s quite a big British contingent in Iceland, within men and women’s football – has that helped you settle?

 Yes its definitely helped.  To have others that are not from here has been helpful at times. Before I came here, I wasn’t sure how I would communicate to everyone, but everybody here speaks English. If you have heard Icelandic, you will understand how relieved I was. It’s difficult.  Obviously when Jon coaches  in Icelandic I am oblivious to the world and never have i asked the question ‘what?’ so much. I can’t say I will be going home fluent any time soon.
How would you like to see the women’s game in the UK move forward? European countries seem to take it far more seriously than here. 

There is no doubt that the Welsh Women’s National team is developing, I have only just become a part of the squad this last year and even in that short space of time I have witnessed improvement. How close are we to qualifying for a major tournament? I wouldn’t say we are far off, but of course there is a lot to do, especially with the World Cup Qualifiers coming up. Jarmo is working with all U17, U19 and the seniors to get to that level. Wales have some great players at the moment: (Jess) Fishlock, Gwen (Harries), Tash, (Sophie) Ingle, Dyksey, Lander and more, all good examples for other players coming through and taking the step up to international football.

I would like to see women’s football in the UK to just be taken more seriously. I think the recent viewings of the Euros shows that it’s growing in popularity, but now it has to keep going. Regardless of how focused a player is in achieving something, its very hard for a female footballer to focus solely on the game due to the lack of support. I would love a ball at my feet all day everyday, but it isn’t  realistic. It’s VERY frustrating. At home, most teams train as a team twice, three times a week. In other European counties football is full time; they train together as a team every day, even sometimes twice, three times a day and that shows at international level. I would like to see football developed to the point that it’s like that at home. This will enable players to have  a level playing field and allow females to meet their full potential.

Would you consider moving to other European countries to play football? 

As hard as it is sometimes being away from family and friends and the Welsh culture, yes I would play in other European countries if it’s going to give me valuable experience. I would like to get to play in the Women’s Super league at some point as well. But right now I am just focusing on playing well at IBV. It’s not massively different no, football is football, But Iceland is a lot more direct than back in Wales and some of the things that I have been told to do at previous clubs is now different, so when we do the video analysis sessions and I am being told to do something, it is different to what I was previously taught, I do get rather confused (although sometimes that’s not hard), but I think a main strength of mine is to be able to take things on board from the coach and put it into my game. It’s always good to learn a new style of play. I think the tempo of play is also faster here, so I have had to adapt to that and be more physical and quicker to react.
If you had a piece of advise for an aspiring young female footballer, what would it be? 
I think the advice I would give to any player is to just keep going. Sometimes it can just take one game to change everything. It was my dream to play for Wales and it still is, as cliche as that sounds. But a year ago, there was a time where I couldn’t see it happening, but then Jarmo invited me to a camp after watching UWIC play in the Welsh Premier and then I got my first cap against Belgium. It was hard at the time going from the Welsh Premier to international football; my head was all over the place, but it’s all a part of the process. Now I am in the position I hope where I will have the opportunities and it’s a matter of whether or not I take them.  I know how much work I have to put in and what I have to do,  so I am taking every opportunity to get to the player I would like to be – hence why I am in Iceland. So my advice is to just keep going, even when it doesn’t seem like things are going your way.

Thanks to Nadia for speaking to James and Lost Boyos. Good luck with the rest of the season and all the best for the future.

You can follow James on Twitter at @JamesDrobka and you can follow Nadia Lawrence at @LawrenceNadia.

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