Striker Courtney Sweetman-Kirk has made quite the impact ever since signing with Everton Ladies on transfer deadline day. Her impact on the Blue Girls has been incredible and recently she was awarded the FA WSL Player of the Month for November for her goal scoring prowess and unselfish teamwork.
Courtney has previously featured for Leicester City Women, Coventry City, Notts County and Doncaster Rovers Belles before joining the Blue Girls. She took some time out of her busy schedule to speak with Royal Blue Mersey about her life as a Blue:
Congratulations on your WSL Player of the Month award! How were you notified that you had won the award?
Thank you. Our manager Andy [Spence] and our general manager Aaron [Little] took me to the side one day at the training ground.
What was your reaction when they told you that you had won?
I’ll be honest; I asked them if they were joking. It was so out the blue and unexpected but it was a lovely surprise.
I tried to order a Sweetman-Kirk jersey through Everton Direct but not all of the letters fit! I emailed their customer service and they said that they can do a special order. Is anyone else you know having difficulty fitting your name on their jersey?
That’s funny. Nobody I know but in the past I’ve had problems myself at previous clubs where they have put either just Sweetman or Kirk. The names are my Dad’s and Mum’s respectively so as you can imagine when one gets missed off it doesn’t go down very well!
You always seem so calm and composed on the pitch, especially when scoring a goal. What’s your secret?
Practice! I work a lot on my finishing and I find that’s the thing that helps the most. You can’t always replicate the same pressure in training as in a match but the more you do it the more I find it it becomes a bit of an automatic thing. I watch analysis on opposition keepers too to see what their habits are, if they normally stay on their line or rush out for example.
There are a lot of attacking players on the Everton Ladies but something that your coach has mentioned sets you apart is your work rate. Can you tell us a little about your style of play and how you are able to maintain a high work rate?
The way I always put it is I’m a nuisance! I try never to let the players I’m playing up against have an easy time of it. I’ve always been a hard worker and appreciate my defending duties as much as going forward. In terms of maintaining that work rate we do a lot of work at the club in terms of our fitness which is obviously very important. I’ve always tried to be as professional as possible and look after myself on and off the pitch and maintaining fitness is a big part of that.
You are full of confidence in your interviews. How important is that in football?
I think confidence in general is a huge thing in all walks of life. I think it’s important to believe in yourself and the others around you. We have a very confident squad too, we all believe in each other because we know the hard work that happens day in and day out on the training field. Lately that’s also transferred to match day so there is a good vibe on camp at the moment.
We enjoy your swagger. We have noticed a slight resemblance on the pitch to USA player Carli Lloyd. Are you a fan of her or any other players from other teams?
Yea I’m a fan for sure. It was great to see her in the WSL too. It shows the league can attract big players. I enjoyed watching Lieke Martens at the Euros this summer. She’s a very exciting player.
How did you come up with your signature goal celebration, the salute to the crowd?
It came about quite randomly. I was asked to do it if I scored the night before a game. I scored on the game the next day and it’s just something that I continued to do.
Everton's Continental Cup campaign came to an end in heartbreaking fashion, on penalty kicks. How do you deal mentally with such a hard fought battle that didn't go your way? Also, what goes through your mind before taking a PK?
It’s hard when we were so close and I must admit I’ve been in a mood about it for the last few days! As a group we will do analysis on the game and that helps to put it to bed. In terms of the penalty, not a lot believe it or not! I choose early the side I’m going to go and don’t change my mind. I like the pressure of penalties.
You scored a brace in the snow against Sunderland. Do you want it to snow every game now?
Nooooo! I hate the cold! Even though the difference from my home town to Liverpool is only a 100 miles or so, the north of England has lived up to its reputation of being cold! The girls tend to take the Mickey out of me as I train in a snood, leggings, glove and basically anything I can find to keep me warm
How is playing for Everton different from your last team, Doncaster?
I think one of the main things is the tempo of training for sure. Doncaster had and still has some extremely talented players but the tempo is a step up. To compete in WSL 1 it has to be! Being based at Finch Farm is incredible too. As players we could not ask for a better facility with everything we need on site.
We hope that the England national team is paying attention. You played for the national team in the U-23’s and you are not shy about your aspirations to get back into an England jersey. What do you think you’ll have to do to get there?
I think I need to consistently keep scoring goals and putting in good performances and working hard. I’d like to think I’ve done that quite well in 2017 and I will work hard to continue that in to 2018.
What are your favorite things about the city of Liverpool?
I love the Baltic market which is a street food market. I’ve been there quite a few times now and when family and friends come and visit it’s always the first place I take them! Everyone is so friendly too which is nice. The city has a lovely atmosphere.
Have you been picking up any of the Scouser slang?
‘Frabs’ which means cold . But that’s about it. There’s a good mix of regions on the team so I’m not too outnumbered by scousers!
Financial security of female players just received renewed attention due to the FIFpro report that found that 58% of FA WSL players are considering quitting because of financial concerns. Do you have anything to add about how you’ve been able to sustain a football career during difficult times?
For me, I’m of an age where I’ve seen both sides. When I was young it was never a thought or option to play professionally in the UK and that be your only job but now that is possible and I’m thankful I can do so. I’ve always known I needed a career for when I retire. The professionalism of the women’s game here is still very much in its infancy so hopefully it can go from strength. I think that’s something the new FA restructure that’s come on to place next year is trying to combat.
Claudia Walker is out with injury for the whole season and she was a huge play maker for the team. How is the team adjusting to her absence?
I think everyone is trying to help her and be there for her which is the most important thing. She is a talented player so obviously we will miss her but in the same breath we have a squad full of talent and people ready to come in and do a job.
And some non-football related questions, your favorite book of 2017:
Current Favorite TV Show:
I love watching a programme called ‘Celebrity Juice’ never fails to make me laugh.
Favorite songs from your pre-game playlist:
I can’t choose between Lethal Bizzle’s “Pow” and Giggs’ “Talkin’ the Hardest.” They always get everyone buzzing and ready for the game.
What is something we would be surprised to learn about you:
I have an undergraduate in sports science and I’m currently doing a part time masters in Sports Business. And I can play the drums.
Courtney, we salute you and all of your hard work! Your drumming skills surely effect your perfectly-timed goal scoring. We couldn’t be happier to have such a dynamic striker playing for the Everton Ladies.
Be sure to get your Sweetman-Kirk kit specially ordered in time for the next Ladies game on January 6th.