Winger Simone O’Brien has been in great form for FA Women’s National League Division 1 South West side Maidenhead United Women this season.
Her most recent strike at Cambridge United on Sunday was her fourth of the season and enough to secure passage to the next round of the FAWNL Plate.
Simone told Football in Berkshire: “As soon as the ref blew for the free kick I wanted to get the goal as the opposition knew she had caught me good on the ankle! I felt confident enough to take the free kick straight away, it was in a position where I felt confident. I did some practice in pre season with Sinead (Thompson) outside of training and this was a similar position. (Alex) Dover asked me if I wanted it and said ‘yeah’. I set up and for me it dipped at the right time and went in to give us the lead.”
Being settled in her role this season for Maidenhead has clearly helped Simone this term as she explains: “I think this season we have all taken on our position roles and jobs and listened and put this into action and it has lead to goals. Listening to the management team on instructions and advice has really helped for me, as last season I was playing in a number of positions. Whereas this season I’ve played majority games on the left which has been great.”
I think I am my worse critic sometimes for being too hard on myself.Simone O’Brien
Determined Simone isn’t resting on her laurels however after her flying start to the season and is clearly a player who thinks deeply about her part in the team: “I think I am my worse critic sometimes for being too hard on myself. As a player, football can be a frustrating game especially when it’s not going the way you pre planned so this would be my weakness. I would say my strengths are trying to link play and look to play how we know we can. I try to play with a good touch and know where my next pass is going, which is something I’ve been trying to improve this season. I’d now like to say my free kicks from this weekend could now be a strength too!”
And it is not only Simone who is improving her game, she feels her team mates are rising to the challenge too: “Last season was a tough season so we could easily say our aim is to finish higher than what we did. But as a team we want to be a challenging opponent and play the football we know we can. We want to show who we are through our football and of course finish higher but aim for the top end of the table, not stay up by the slightest margin. As a player I want to be able to be part of this transitional season for Maidenhead Women and for me I want to improve my game. Under our coaches I have all confidence this will continue as it’s already showing with the goals, team play, spirit and desire.”
Interestingly though, Simone was nearly lost to the game of football as a teenager.
“At the age of 12 or 13 I just stopped, as at school during teenage years I guess it wasn’t a known thing for girls to be playing back then. Later I worked in gyms and saw Maidenhead Council and Magpies In The Community had a session on for Fit for Life week and I went down as I still enjoyed football and wondered if I could still play! It continued from there really.”
Simone is just as active off the pitch as she is on it: “I have currently just changed roles, my background is as a personal trainer and I’ve just left my job from Fulham FC Foundation as the Health Coordinator to run my own personal training studio which is currently in progress.”
It is gratifying to see a talented footballer thrive but Simone is typically modest: “I think for me seeing the growth as a team is amazing and that comes from our coaching staff so we have to give a thank you to them! The passion they have and the belief they have in us is amazing. As a team we are all wanting to win and now have directions and support which we needed. Everyone from the starting 11 and our subs when it’s game day are switched on and ready to put in 110% to get to where we want to be. I think it’s credit to the guys to get us where we are and we still have the whole season to go! A thank you to the back-ground staff as well in helping us grow and the home support we have had this season has been incredible!”