Midfielder chats after signing for the Whites.
Leeds United Women secured their fifth summer signing, with the signature of exciting midfielder Kathryn Smith.
The former Barnsley captain chatted after agreeing to join Dan O’Hearne and his Leeds side, letting us know about her playing style and reason behind joining the Whites.
Kathryn, welcome to the club! Why did you want to join Leeds United?
“I knew about the club, I had heard good things and I also know some of the girls that are already here. It’s also the set up really, it is by far the best set up in our league and in truth, maybe even in the league above as well. My first impressions have been great, training so far has been really competitive, all really well organised and overall it has been really impressive so I am honestly delighted to be here. As long as it keeps that way I am sure I will be really happy here!”
So take us back to where it all began, how did you get into football?
“I played from quite young. I’ve got a brother and sister both who were rubbish at sport! Just because I showed an interest, my dad kept taking me to the park to practice kicking a ball about, doing kick-ups and things like that. I just stuck with it after that. So I used to play for a boys team when I was younger, then as I got older I went to the Centre of Excellence at Barnsley and then went from there when I was 12 onwards.
“I left Barnsley for a short time when I went to university and actually played for Leeds City Vixens for a while, then I moved home and went back to Barnsley again. I had so many good times and have great memories with Barnsley, I also felt we were quite successful when I was there winning a league and a cup.
“I then went travelling for a bit so I had a bit of a break, but then I came back and I felt we were on the up again before Covid hit. Now I am here at Leeds and can’t wait to get going!”
So you were captain at your previous club and always in the starting line-up. What can we expect to see from you as a player, when you get out there onto the pitch?
“I hope I can continue to be a leader in a team that already has some great people and experience. I am naturally like that, I have a big mouth! I have often found it quite hard to keep quiet if I have something to say so hopefully that can be a good thing and I can help people who want it or need it.
“There’ll be lots of falling over! I’ll spend more time on the floor than anyone else for sure, I’ll get stuck in. I love a strike from the edge of the box, I like a tackle, I just keep busy and like to get about the pitch. I’m a full out and out centre-midfielder, I’ve never really played anywhere else so I can’t really put myself in the versatile category like some others but if needed, I’ll try to be! I don’t mind the odd run down the wing here and there but it’s not my expertise I’ll be honest.”
And away from the pitch, what do you get up to?
“I am a primary school teacher, I think everyone knows how that has been going over the last 18 months so I am looking forward to some normality again soon both on the pitch with football and off it with work!
“I quite like eating! I also do a lot of running, I’ve been really enjoying that during lockdown and I have also found myself getting into interval training because I’ve not had the opportunity to play. I quite enjoy reading as well, I’m a member of my local library and I love reading crime books! I’ve done that for a long time and enjoy swapping with my friends.”
Now that you’ve signed and after a frustrating couple of years, just how much are you looking forward to getting back playing in what is an exciting time for the women’s game?
“It has been massively frustrating for us all, but that’s not just for me and throughout football, it has obviously been a really tough time across the world. It’s going to be nice to get back playing and not be stop-start like the last couple of years have been, hopefully we can get in a rhythm now and flow like we are meant to be doing and enjoy a full league season!
“Everyone wants to be the best they can be, and this season the best we can do is win the league so that is our priority. If we can achieve that, then we can build from there, but as cliche as it sounds we will be going back to basics and taking things one game at a time. We need to focus on getting the basics right in training too so we can take that into matches, I am sure it will all come together nicely in time and we can be in a really good place.
“The future for women’s football is so so good, and it makes me jealous that I am not younger and able to be enjoying the opportunities that the youngsters now have! The colleges, facilities, coaches, the support, the media, just everything that the youngsters have now and can look forward to is amazing. It’s set up to make them be successful and it is brilliant to see, even if I am a bit sad that our age missed out on it!”
Finally, have you had a good chat with your manager, Dan O’Hearne prior to signing and how have you settled in with your new teammates?
“Yeah, we had a good chat. He told me that because I was coming in from Barnsley that he knew I’d understand the league and the teams we would be facing. He said it would be nice to have a player with that experience on board, someone who is committed and wants to play well.
“I think there are quite a few new players here, so quite a few of us are in the same boat with that. I am sure we will get a chance to do some team bonding or something like that but everyone here is great and I have been really welcomed.”