Interview with Estelle Johnson
Background Image: Warren Smith
Estelle Johnson made a name for herself in the United States with the NWSL and its derivatives. She’s a defender who stands up tall and doesn’t make attackers feel welcome when they come into her house. Johnson currently turns out in the Sky Blue FC starting XI.
At 30, she’s finally taken the decision to start her international career. While she’s spent most of her life in the United States, Johnson was born in Cameroon. Fecafoot contacted her last year about her potentially featuring for the Indomitable Lionesses. She debuted after the holidays and is now a regular in the first team.
I managed to speak to her about all things NWSL and her career in general, prior to her international debut. Unfortunately, publishing it kept being put off. Like Johnson's international career, however, better late than never.
How did you get into football?
My earliest memories are of the recreational team I would play at. It was so fun, I wanted to keep on playing and playing it. I distinctly recall my coach wearing a pink shirt during practice! I knew from a young age I wanted to be an athlete, but not specifically a footballer until I went to college really. It was the college system that enthused my passion for the sport.
What’s the college system like compared to the professional NWSL game?
The speed is the biggest difference. Pro-level here in the States is a rapid game. The college games are played at a slower pace, it was still an amazing experience, however, that I enjoyed.
Who was your biggest idol within football?
I didn’t get the chance to watch a lot of football, so I couldn’t really idolize any one particular player. I guess that makes me 100% original!
You have also played in Australia. How was that?
The W-League has an incredible atmosphere. It’s a bit more laid back than the NWSL. The league is a bit shorter too; oh, and the scheduling isn’t the same. It allows quite a few players to go back-and-forth during the respective off-seasons.
The NWSL has been a lot more successful than its predecessors. Do you know why?
I think that with the US Women’s Team doing so well these days, Americans are more interested than ever to watch women’s football. It’s continuing to grow and grow. The NWSL can attribute its success to many factors but the USWNT is certainly a big help.
What are your goals for the future?
Now I’m with Sky Blue FC, I really want to get my hands on the NWSL title. While I’m here, I will support this team; and do my best on the pitch to ensure we get the victories.
Prior to that elusive NWSL title, Estelle has a chance to win the World Cup with Cameroon. She played a full 90 minutes in her team’s opening match against the much-favoured Canadian side. Estelle herself looked determined at the back, staying disciplined, doing everything possible to halt the Canadian attack. Cameroon still lost the match, but she was one of the key reasons the score stayed at a respectable 1-0.
Estelle and company now have to play the Netherlands on Saturday and New Zealand the following Thursday. With one matchday lost, they know they have to turn up to these games and get something out of them to proceed.