A north-east teenager who was told she should not play football has now been nominated for a national award for her goalkeeping success with Buckie Ladies FD.
Sophia Golebiewski, from Banff, has loved the game since she was a child but was recommended not to play herself following her autism diagnosis.
Despite being warned playing could have an impact on her anxiety and mental health, the 18-year-old decided to follow her passion and has successfully helped her team win the double two years in a row.
Sophia Golebiewski shortlisted for Player of the Year
Now, she has been shortlisted for Highlands and Islands Player of the Year at this year’s Scottish Women’s Football Awards.
“I have loved football for as long as I can remember,” Sophia said. “It was always on the TV at home or my uncle’s house, and me and my brothers would kick the ball about in the front garden.
“When I got to P3, I wanted to play but there were only boy’s teams. I joined Deveronvale but the boys wouldn’t pass to girls so I didn’t stay long.”
Buckie Ladies star goalkeeper
Sophia would still go along to the five-a-side pitch to watch other youngsters play and have a kick about with her younger brother, Adam, while the teams were warming up.
“Someone saw us and said to my dad he should find me a team,” she added. “By that time, when I was about 11 or 12, Deveronvale had a girls team so I went along.
“I started as as an outfield player but once the keeper left, I jumped at the chance to go in goal.”
When the Deveronvale team folded a few years later, it was suggested Sophia join her current team Buckie Ladies FD.
“I went for it and haven’t looked back,” she said. “We have had two amazing seasons winning the double two years in a row. All my hard work is paying off and I’m grateful for everyone for believing in me.”
Proving people wrong
Despite her achievements in the sport, Sophia was told she should not play football when she was first diagnosed with autism.
The 18-year-old said: “It has not been easy as I had a lot of trouble communicating and getting to know my teammates until I was on the pitch.
“Going through my diagnosis, we were told that football wasn’t going to do me any good, sending my anxiety and mental health through the roof, but I have proved people wrong saying I shouldn’t and couldn’t do it.
“Well, I did it.”
Her mum, Joanne Golebiewski, added: “Sophia is so passionate about football but it was recommened she shouldn’t play because she would get anxious if they lost.
“But she stuck it out and worked through it all.”
Team success for Buckie Ladies FD
Team coach Laura Duncan said Sophia has become a “big character” in the team since joining at the start of last season.
“She would hardly speak to any of us when she first started but it has been great to see her confidence grow and grow over the months,” she said.
“And, Sophia has been a fantastic player – she only conceded eight goals last season. As well as that, her knowledge of the game is great and she has been helping our second goalie learn the role.”
Buckie Ladies FD have also been recognised in the awards shortlist with a nomination for Sustainable Club of the Year, and a Volunteer of the Year nomination for Laura, who is involved with all age groups at the club.
Several of the players will attend the award ceremony at Hampden Park on November 25.
“I was gobsmacked,” Laura said. “Chuffed to bits but shocked we were nominated.
“Last season we won the league for the first time, and the cup. It was a massive achievement for the team.
“When we first started we had heavy defeats at every match so to come on like this is such a short time is amazing for me and the team.”