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Aberdeen FC Ladies have secured their first new face of 2015 with the signing of midfielder Holly Dawson from US W-League side Long Island Rough Riders.
The former Arsenal Ladies Football Academy attendee joins up with Allan Smith's side after spending seven years in America - initially studying Sports Management at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. Holly picked up further playing experience with W-League side CFC Passion before moving to New York in 2011 to obtain her masters in Sports Management at St John' University. Holly would further her coaching role at St Johns with a playing role with the local Long Island side.
Having adapted to plus 35 degrees temperature and multiple training sessions per day, Holly can look back fondly on her time spent 'state side'. "It is an amazing set up in America," she explains, "as you are given the opportunity to train at a competitive level, while also gaining high quality education.
"It is very professional, and a huge commitment. It is important to keep up your grades, because if they fall, you don't play, so that was a big motivation for me to keep my grades up!"
Despite her many years playing experience, Holly's move to Aberdeen will be her first experience of her home nation's top league.
"What has been great to see now that I am back in Scotland after being away for ten years, is the level of professionalism and development in the women's game," she added. "It is continuing to grow, and more and more girls are starting to participate in the game which is great to see.
"One big difference I found playing 'soccer' in America, compared to here in the UK was the technical and tactical level of play. In America, the majority of players are very strong, fast and overall very good athletes; however, some lacked the technical and tactical elements of the game. Americans have so many options of sports to participate in and watch, so it is not as common for individuals to predominantly play and watch football."
Having joined up for training during the closed season period, Holly has had some time to view her new club and is enthusiastic about the challenges that lie ahead in 2015. "Now that I am back in Scotland, and spent the last few weeks training with Aberdeen, I am very impressed with the level of play, and the professionalism of the club," she said.
"It was difficult for me to play at the level I would like in America as I was working full time; therefore, a goal of mine moving home was to play at a competitive level again, which is why I am really looking forward to signing for Aberdeen Ladies."
Commenting on Holly's signing, manager Allan Smith added: "We are delighted to welcome Holly to the club. She has lots of experience from her time in the US, and I expect her to be a great addition to the squad for the 2015 campaign."
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