April 8, 2013
QUEENS, N.Y. -
In February, former St. John's women's soccer standout Vaila Barsley made the transatlantic voyage for the second time in her career, this time to play professionally for Sweden's Eskilstuna United. After two months of preseason workouts and training, Barsley and Eskilstuna will begin a seven-month schedule that will keep the English native in Sweden until mid-October.
Preseason workouts lasted from February to April and consisted of three soccer sessions and two lifting sessions per week. Preseason training also included scrimmages, called "friendlies," with other teams.
"I cannot wait to go and play, because I have missed playing," said Barsley before leaving for Sweden. "I am extremely grateful for all of the opportunities and experiences I have had playing soccer, especially here at St. John's with Coach Stone. He has been very supportive during this whole experience."
"I am delighted that Vaila has taken this opportunity to live out a lifelong dream of becoming a professional soccer player. Vaila is so talented in many different arenas, but it is important for her that she can play at the highest level she can; while she still is able.
Barsley's path to playing in Sweden began in September when she first signed with an agent. She was chosen by Eskilstuna from a highlight video of her St. John's career which was posted on her agency's web site. Barsley left for Sweden in early February to begin her preseason training. Her trip to Eskilstuna is her first to Sweden, similar to the experience she had when first coming to the U.S. to play soccer for head coach Ian Stone's Red Storm in 2006.
Eskilstuna is located one hour outside of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.
Barsley completed her five-year accounting bachelor's/master's degree in accounting from St. John's in 2011. A native of Great Yarmouth, England, obtained a work visa and began her career as a staff accountant for the firm Ernst and Young, in the Time Square office in New York City. While she plays with Eskilstuna, Ernst and Young has granted her a one-year leave of absence to focus on her professional playing aspirations. Coincidently, there is also a Ernst and Young office right near her new apartment in Eskilstuna.
"I am really excited to be able to focus 100 percent of my energies on playing soccer," said Barsley. "Throughout my playing career so far, I always had other things that were equally important going on in my life, school, work etc."
Sweden has one of the five top professional soccer leagues, in addition to Germany, France, the English WSL and the new American league.
In Sweden, Barsley will room with Louise Quinn, an Irish native who is one of only two other non-Swedish members of Eskilstuna. Quinn and Barsley, along with Barsley's former St. John's teammate Susan Byrne played together for the Irish team Peamount United in the Champions League. The other non-Swedish player is Meabh De Burca, another Irish national who played in New Haven in Connecticut.
Barsley, a right-footed center back, had a successful career at St. John's were she was a part of the 2009 NCAA Tournament team, the first in Red Storm history. Barsley was named to the 2006 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Northeast Region Second Team, the 2006 All-BIG EAST Third Team and the 2006 NSCAA Freshman All-American Third Team. She was also part of the 2006 and 2008 Soccer Buzz All-Northeast Region Second Team.
After her undergrad days were over, Barsley continued to be a part of the Red Storm women's soccer program a graduate assistant coach. Additionally, Barsley played for the Long Island Rough Riders women's soccer organization last summer, where she was named to the W-League Team of the Year. In August 2012, Barlsey played with an Irish Team in the Champions League and also played in Iceland in 2011 as part of the Afturelding organization.
Keep up to date on all St. John's women's soccer news by following the Red Storm on Facebook and Twitter: @stj_wsoccer #stjwsoc. To be added to the St. John's women's soccer E-mail list email email@example.com with the subject "Women's Soccer E-Mail."