Find out our exclusive interview with U20 United States star Michelle Cooper. The Duke university striker speaks about the Sud Ladies Cup, her role in the USA team and also the evolution of women’s football.
First of all, what do you expect from the upcoming Sud Ladies Cup 2022 ?
I’m excited to watch our team continues to grow, we haven’t spent a lot of time together due to the COVID obviously. We want to use the Sud Ladies Cup and everything before to prepare ourselves for the World Cup.
By listening some interviews that you made, we feel that you love this role of leader, of model ? Since when do you have this personality ?
I think just having the girls around me, supporting me and doing that is not something I can just do on my own, just wake up one day and decide that’s I want to do. I also have the support from the staff and the players around me, my family at home and knowing that, I can be confident and help lead the team to whatever we need to go.
You have been named in the United Stated preliminary roster for the CONCACAF championship. Did you expected that ? Does that give you a massive boost confidence in order to reach one day the senior team ?
Oh yeah ! Of course, it’s an honour to be put in that list among all these players. That’s not easy to do and accomplish. It’s nice but I would not be letting it affect me too much and continue to work because it’s not the end goal for me and I just want to keep pushing.
You’re still at college. Is it difficult to find the right balance between your studies and your sporting aims ?
Oh definitely (laughs) ! It’s a struggle to find this balance, we were talking about that yesterday. I mean it’s not easy to being able to play college football, represent your national team and study for the college. Knowing that, I have the support of the people here going to help me and wanted me to reach my goals. It’s make it a lot of easier but it's definitely difficult !
Is playing in Europe, something in your mind ? We read that you have already visited several countries despite your young age...
Definitely ! I think I just want to keep my options open regardless if play in America or overseas. There is nothing I’m looking to turn down.
How do you see the evolution of women’s football ? You’ve been able to play against foreign countries with USA youth teams, to travel. Is women’s football in the right way in terms of attractiveness, structure according to you or do you think that there is still a lot to do ?
I think, it’s growing in level and attractiveness. The venues are getting better, the audience is getting bigger, even the people viewing online and in the stadiums are constantly growing. And I can only imagine what it will look like in 10 or 15 years from now when, hopefully, all of us are still playing so it’s exciting to know the game continues to grow both in America and globally.
The last time, USA played the Sud Ladies Cup, back in 2018, they won it with players like Sophia Smith and Ashley Sanchez who became then senior internationals with United States. Is it inspiring ?
Yeah that’s inspiring, definitely ! A lot of us knew those girls and played with them when we were much younger, in club games as well. Just knowing what they have accomplished and paving the way for us is just so exciting. Hope we’ll be able to do that as well !
The Sud Ladies Cup is part of your preparation for the U20 World Cup this summer in Costa Rica. Can we say that the World Cup starts now or is too advanced ?
I would not say that the World Cup starts now but yes the preparation starts now. I mean, both on and off the field, when you are taking care of your body, going into ice baths, all these things… I definitely think preparation starts now but think about the World Cup today is too far advanced, we have just to think about it in a moment.
By Amayes Brahmi and Mathieu Lauricella