Lauren Egbuloniu thriving since swapping Cork City for Louisiana Tech

Brilliant 19-year-old forward from Cobh is pursuing her soccer dreams in the USA
Lauren Egbuloniu thriving since swapping Cork City for Louisiana Tech

Lauren Egbuloniu, then with Cork City, tackled by Ann Marie Byrne, Bohemians, at Turner's Cross. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

LOVING life in the States, Cobh girl Lauren Egbuloniu is already making an impact with three goals and an assist in the opening few months of her three-year football scholarship.

Situated in Louisiana Tech College, the 19-year-old has adapted to life away from family and is loving the experience of playing in the States.

“I absolutely love it here,” said Egbuloniu.

“Since I arrived, everyone has been extremely welcoming which has made the move from home so much easier and because of this I am loving the football here.”

Showing an interest in playing in the States was on the cards for quite a while for the former Cork City and Passage player and having eventually gotten over, the experience certainly hasn’t disappointed her.

“I have always been interested in going to America. A few agencies reached out to me about me signing with them and getting me over to America so I decided to go with CSUSA with David Stanbra.

“I decided that Louisiana Tech was the one for me. I went over at the end of July as preseason was starting at the beginning of August and I have loved it ever since.

“I was awarded a full scholarship which covers tuition, housing and books and my plan is to stay for three years but I might take a fourth and do my masters here, I haven’t decided.”

So what is the difference in standard to back home?

“Our team is part of the Conference USA Western division. The standard is very high with the game being faster, more physical, and players are so much fitter. Training here is a better standard, we train six days a week with 2/3 gym sessions depending on what day our games are, we also train for two hours with film beforehand.

“They concentrate on fitness a lot here which is great.

“We have played 15 games since the 11th of August, sometimes we could have three games a week but that was only during pre-season, now it’s just one a week.

“I have got 14 starts to date. I have started all conference games and didn’t start one preseason game.

“I have got three goals this season with one assist. Conference games we have played UAB, Charlotte, Rice, UTEP and Southern Mississippi.

“This week we play UTSA. I have visited Houston Texas, Birmingham Alabama, Springfield Missouri, Baton Rouge Louisiana, Lake Charles Louisiana, Pineville Louisiana and Murray Kentucky so it’s been a fantastic experience so far.

Lauren Egbuloniu (left) with former Wexford Youths player Blessing Kingsley. Both girls are now on scholarship in the States.
Lauren Egbuloniu (left) with former Wexford Youths player Blessing Kingsley. Both girls are now on scholarship in the States.

“I am adjusting to college life here in America, it is very different compared to college back home.

“I’m studying kinesiology which is working in the health professions and clinical exercise physiology. I spend under 10 hours a week on campus in class but I also have one online class this quarter.

“We do two hours of training six days a week with also 40 minutes of gym two to three days a week so there is a nice balance.

“Game night is very exciting, the atmosphere here is great, there is a lot of hype surrounding a game.

“There are a lot of supporters that come to the game and the difference here is that they promote the game better here.

“They would have giveaways during our games and they promote our games during other college sports games and vice versa.

“The stadium for soccer is smaller than Turner’s Cross would be, but it is always full, more supporters would come to our games thank when back at home.

“It is very professional here, the facilities are top class. From our locker rooms to our meeting room, the standard is high.

“They put a lot of money into our soccer complex. Our college is sponsored by Adidas, we get a lot of gear from them from soccer boots to gear bags and clothing apparel, same with the other college sports teams.

“We have our own team bus for travelling to games and stay at very nice hotels during away games as sometimes we could be on the road for eight hours.

“Competition is very high over here. We have 37 players on the team so no matter what position you are in, you are fighting with at least two other girls on the team for that spot.

“There is a good mix of us in the squad with many different cultures, from America, Norway, Spain, England, Sweden, Japan, The Netherlands, Australia, Germany, and Canada.”

Although there are 12 internationals on the team, Egbuloniu has been out of that scene for a few years now. Initially due to an ACL injury and since has found it difficult to break through however she is keeping her options open.

“I would love to get an opportunity to play for an international team again as I haven’t done so since U17s.

Lauren Egbuloniu celebrates after scoring for Cork City. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Lauren Egbuloniu celebrates after scoring for Cork City. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Being away from home is never easy and when you lose someone close to you it’s even harder.

“My uncle passed away recently and it’s awful when you’re so far from home. It was difficult not being able to be there for my family during this tough time but we spoke a lot and felt like I was there.

“I will return home at Christmas so I’m really looking forward to that. But for me, I’ll just focus on my aim of trying to make a good impact on the team and build good relationships with the girls so in the future it will be easier to play with everyone as I am still learning how some girls play.

“Of course I want to score and assist as many goals as I can but also I want to keep up my good grades in college.

“This is something I’ve wanted for a long time and I plan on giving it a good go.”

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