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How Good Is Kentucky Freshman Hollie Olding Of England? - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

How Good Is Kentucky Freshman Hollie Olding Of England?

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Hollie Olding (UK Athletics Photo) Hollie Olding (UK Athletics Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

She competed for England’s national women’s soccer team at the FIFA Under 17 World Cup as well as the Under 17 European Championships.

Now Hollie Olding has made the journey to Kentucky to play for coach Ian Carry.

She has played for England club powerhouses Chelsea FC and Brighton Hove Albion in addition to the national team.

So just how good is she? Olding sounds like an intriguing player, so I reached out to Neville Dalton of https://sentherforward.wordpress.com/, a blog about women’s and girls’ football (soccer) in England. He’s a journalist with 30 years of experience, including the BBC News website. Now he’s a freelance journalist.

But he’s been a football (soccer) fan for life and even though he says he has only “limited knowledge” to share about Olding, I though his perspective would be interesting to UK fans — especially those like me with only a limited knowledge of soccer.

“Hollie was one of a number of teenagers given a chance by Brighton in the recent spring series of the Women's Super League, an interim tournament to bridge the gap between the previous WSL summer league and the new winter one, which begins next month,” said Dalton. “It was Brighton's first appearance as a Super League club, having won promotion from the Women's Premier League last year.”

Olding was not a regular in Brighton’s Premier League championship season. But Dalton said for a 17-year-old player, she had to adapt and learn on a team that competed at a high level just a notch below the top tier that features world-class players.

“Like all her teammates, she had to conform to a strict tactical plan demanded by her then manager. And believe me, she would not have been featured if she had not been up to the task,” Dalton said. “A lot of Brighton's senior players left last summer, and Hollie, along with several other teenagers, was given an unexpected opportunity in the WSL spring series.

“Brighton are now members of WSL2, which is the second-highest tier in women's football in England, and although her move to the USA means she will not get the chance to play in the full WSL league competition, starting in September, she played in seven of the nine spring series matches.”

Olding figures to be a midfielder at Kentucky. Dalton considers her an “elegant, hard-working” player who is comfortable on the ball.

“Brighton played fast, one-touch, passing football, so you can picture how she would have to play in a midfield role,” Dalton said. “She is still learning, and from what I have read of the American college scene, she will need to work on her fitness levels in the States. But she will bring hard work and composure to the Kentucky side.”

Olding will find that soccer is not the prime-time sport in Kentucky like it is in England. It won’t get the attention/publicity that basketball and football do. Dalton, though believes college soccer is played “seriously” in the United States with better media coverage and fans than the college/university equivalent has in England.

“As she will be in a sporting environment, I doubt whether the fact that soccer is not the top pick in the USA will worry her in the slightest … if she even notices,” Dalton said. “Obviously, I don't know the standard of the Kentucky team, and in any case, it will probably take Hollie a short while to acclimate, both to the way the game is played there and to the weather. I fear that will be her biggest challenge. She is technically gifted, physically able to look after herself and I have no doubt she will adapt.”

Dalton has a warning that sounds similar to what we hear about high level basketball and football recruits. Don’t expect miracles from her.

“I did feel a little apprehensive about labelling her with so much responsibility at such a young age. I know she has represented her country at under-17 level, but there is a big difference between that and top-grade adult football,” he said. “I’m confident she will do fine. Just give her a little latitude and lower the immediate expectation a little.”

Dalton doesn’t see the move across the Atlantic Ocean as one that will be overwhelming for Olding based on how other players with similar circumstances have succeeded at U.S. colleges.

“A number of Hollie's teammates, mainly in Brighton's development team, are making the same move to the U.S, and I have met many more English girls who have done it previously, some of whom have returned to the States several times. I know of only one who came back early... and that was because she was missing home, I think,” Dalton said. “The others all benefited from the experience.”

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