Ashley Lawrence: 'I've always tried to push my limits'
Speaking to TV, the Canada international told us about why she loves football, her progress in Paris, and her relationship with the fans.
We're going to take you back. Was it a difficult choice to swap Canada, change country, culture and language to come to Paris three years ago?
Yes, there were a lot of factors behind the decision. I liked the European approach, the football culture, as simple as that. The way people live football here, the way it's played. And it was an environment in which I wanted to play. I think that to improve, I knew that I needed that change. To take a plane halfway around the world, to be so far from Canada, was a huge sacrifice for me. But I knew I needed to do that to take the next step. It had always been my dream to do this job, but it wasn't that common to just leave everything behind. A lot of players just played in North America. We didn't talk a lot about going to a big European club, but I think as time has gone on, women's football has developed here and it's incredible. For example, my Canadian teammate Jordyn Huitema didn't go to university, she immediately turned pro. I think she's the perfect example that there are now more options for women who want to become footballers. I think it's great to see how things have developed in recent years.
Where did you get your passion for the game from?
I've always loved football. But the passion comes from my older brother, who played when he was very little. It started when I was a baby, just watching him kicking a ball. And then, quite naturally, I got into it too. I think I started very young. I continued playing, and the happiness I felt being on the pitch was something incredible and I didn't want to lose that. It's the same now, in each training session, I've never lost that feeling. It's more than a job, it's a real passion. I'm fully aware that a lot of people aren't as fortunate as me, and that's why I'm really grateful to be able to go out onto the pitch every day and do what I love, as well as it contributing to my professional career. I owe all that to my family and my big brother. He pushed me, and helped me dig deep and find strength.
We know the fans are very loyal to the women's team. What do you think of them?
I think they really make a huge difference for us. In big games, they give off that energy that can really turn the game. On the pitch, we put in a lot of effort and we expend a lot of energy. I think the Ultras give us another advantage. And we have really felt it when we haven't been able to have fans. We really saw the difference. And I think that over the years, there are more and more of them and they're more passionate. We're really happy and fortunate to have their support. Our team is quite recent and it's great they've watched us grow over the years. I think that has forged a strong link with them. We're going to continue improving, and with such a strong base of support, I have no doubt we'll do that.
What's it like to be one of the oldest in the squad?
Well, it's good and quite surreal. When I think back to when I first arrived at Paris Saint-Germain, I said to myself that it was an honour to play for a club like this. My goal had always been to play in Europe. I remember it as if it were yesterday, when I signed, I was one of the youngest in the team...Initially, I signed for two years and I absolutely loved my time here. It's a club with a lot of goals. And I want to win trophies. I want to grow as a footballer. So it was a big decision to extend my contract, but also an obvious one. I want to continue. I want to keep pushing so the club wins trophies.
After three seasons in Paris, how have you developed?
I think I'm more versatile. I'm used to playing in different positions, and when I signed for Paris, I was a left-back. And this season, I'm at left-back again. So I think I've learned to play different positions. And I like that, because I've always looked to push my limits. I'm someone who likes going out of their comfort zone. I'm very very hard on myself, sometimes too hard. But I think you have to be like that to set an example and get the others behind you. Being constantly very demanding has helped me play with quite a few of my teammates for a number of years now. And I think it's cool, because it's not that common to play with such a solid squad for such a long time. With part of this squad, we started as a very young team and we have grown a lot together. I think that is fantastic.