IT was great for Lauren Egbuloniu to be back at home in Cobh for Christmas with family, after five months in the US.
The gifted young player is attending Louisiana Tech University on a football scholarship, having arrived in July. It was a long stretch away from home.
Doing what she loves has made life easier. Here she tells us about life in the US and her hopes to progress in 2022.
“The football has been going great,” said Lauren. “I’ve got to know everyone a lot better and playing with them is a lot easier these past few weeks.
“This season, I have scored three goals in total, which is not as much as I had hoped for as a striker, but I know there were major adjustments and I just need to settle in. And, hopefully, now I can push on in the new year.
I have a lot of work to do and that includes training over Christmas, as my aim is to make more of an impression next season in the conference.
“I feel being more familiar with my teammates will help my game a lot. Getting to know their style of play and them getting to know mine.
“Right now, we are currently in post-season. We do have some friendlies in the springtime, but for now, we are currently focusing on building ourselves up, both individually and as a team.
“Our main focus will be on getting good chemistry in the team, as there are a lot of new players this year, but we have been working hard on this and the progress is definitely starting to show.
“We were given a training programme to do during the Christmas break and that will ease us into our return in January.”
But for now, the former Passage and Cork City player is grateful for the time she was able to spend with family and friends.
“It was great being home with my family for over a week. I got to surprise a few people, so that was nice also. Because of Covid, there was a lot of hassle, with flights being cancelled and delayed, but, thankfully, I got here and it was great after being away for five months.
“When I return next week, life will be pretty hectic again. We start classes as soon as I get back. 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, plus two hours of training six days a week, with also 40 minutes of gym two or three days a week. So it will definitely be busy when I get back, but I like being busy.”
Despite the effort required to make the journey across the Atlantic, she was always determined to see her loved ones over the break.
“Being at home was really great and although I get to FaceTime my family every day when I’m in the States, it’s not the same. When I left for the States in July, I booked a return flight for Christmas, so coming home was always on my mind and I think that’s what probably got me through the few months also, knowing I would spend this time with my family.
“I will hopefully do the same in the summer. Not being able to work in the States is a bit of a disaster, really, as there will be a period when I will have a lot of downtime. However, that will be another opportunity for me to return home again in the summer.”
Her family’s support, as well as her natural talent, afforded her the opportunity to head to the US in the first place.
“My parents and grandparents have been so supportive of me while in the States and I am really appreciative of that and I hope my performances in the new year can make that all the more worthwhile.
“I enjoyed celebrating new year’s and then the hard work resumes again next week and I look forward to getting back on the pitch.”