Interview with Erica Holford

29th November 2019

“It hit me bad, I was starting to think that it was all in my head.”
Erica Holford

By Bruna Reis

Erica Holford’s passion for sport began at the age of five when her two grandads and stepdad introduced her to football and has since then been involved in the beautiful game.

She recalls playing at county level in her younger years and from the age of 16, she joined Welsh team, The New Saints Ladies where she had a season-long spell playing in the Midlands Premier League.

At 17 she came back to hometown Gloucester and joined Cheltenham Town Ladies Town to play in senior football.

During the 2018/19 season, she made 2 Reserves appearances under then-manager Sarah Haden-Godwin and scored one goal during pre-season. Things were starting to look brighter for the youngster but little did she know, it was about to take a sour turn.

“I was told to consider retiring at 18. It hit me bad. I was starting to think it was all in my head.”

Holford’s time at Cheltenham Ladies was cut-short due to suffering a serious injury which she did not realise the ‘extent of,’ at the time.

“I thought it was just a groin strain,” she began to say.

“I had been hurting for a while but I just thought it was where I wasn’t at my fittest.”

Studying a level 3 extended diploma in Sports Coaching at Hartpury, the now 19-year-old says she found it difficult “not being able to take part in any practical sessions” in her sports course.

“Emotionally I was angry. I was frustrated at myself. I didn’t particularly want to be at college, I was almost sick of seeing everyone else being able to do exercise pain free whilst I had to sit on the side and watch.”

She admitted becoming ‘very disengaged’at college, “I quit the uni’s football team purely because I struggled to watch knowing I wouldn’t be back soon.”

Holford recalls, ‘initially it was a shock.’ After consulting a number of surgeons, a clear diagnosis was made in which a iliopsoas tendon impingement related to endometriosis (the cells similar to the cells in your womb but elsewhere in your pelvis which causes irritation as blood can’t escape) was revealed.

Yet, the doctors made her aware that “a labral tear still couldn’t be ruled out.”

“The plan of action for now is to have more dye and steroid injections to confirm the diagnosis followed by a hip arthroscopy at a later date,” said the 19-year-old.

Currently into her 15th month of being unable to play, Holford admitted that while finding it very challenging to be watching from the side-lines, it is important to digest the situation well.

“I’ve learnt to deal with this and I’ve learnt to kind of just take it on the chin. It is what it is.

“You just have to look at the positives of a really bad situation.”

The support offered by all the staff within the club and those off the pitch has been helpful in her journey to recovery.

“The girls still make me feel like I’m one of the players despite being out for so long.

“I think this injury would have been a lot harder if I didn’t have the constant support of everyone at Cheltenham. I can’t thank them enough.

“I feel I can contribute by coaching younger girls how to play. They may enjoy it and pursue it further.”

The women’s game is on the rise with more media outlets reporting on it and fans supporting their clubs, Erica’s advice to those who want to get involved is simple.

“Give women’s football a try.

“There are so many opportunities for women of all ages. Whether it’s just going to watch a ladies game or participating yourself.”

Images courtesy of Gary Reed Photography.

D2 Interactive