Rode

Rode: Heidi Giles contemplates next step in soccer career

After graduating from university Heidi Giles set a goal of playing professional women’s soccer and hoped it would be in her mother’s home country of Denmark.

But there was one problem.

“It’s a small country and sadly they pay the men but not the women,” Giles explained. “I didn’t have a job and needed the money so it didn’t work out.”

What did work out was the opportunity to play in Iceland.

“I was trying to figure out where I could go and the team I ended up with had an agent who knew a coach with my university team (the U of Mobile, Alabama) and they started talking … they said they were interested and it went from there.”

It wasn’t until August when Heidi managed to join the Division 2 team (Fjardabyggd/Hottur/Leiknir or FHL) but was thrown into the starting lineup immediately.

“They were needing a centre back and I played every minute of every game,” said the 22-year-old native of Clive.

And she impressed to say the least as she was named to the season-ending all-star team, despite missing half the season.

“I loved every minute of it,” she said. “I loved the country and I know they want me back.”

But she isn’t positive she’ll return.

“I have a few other offers, so I‘ll see in the next while what I’ll do.”

When it comes to finances the Iceland team won’t take a back seat.

“From what I understand they are one of the best paying teams in the league, so that’s no problem,” she said.

The only disappointing aspect of the season, for the five-foot-eight defender, came late in the season when the league was shut down because of Covid-19

“Being on the east side of the country we didn’t have any cases, but as it wore on it started to show up ain the country and our last two games were cancelled, which was disappointing as we had a good chance to advancing to the next division,” she said.

Heidi grew up in Clive and started playing soccer at an early age.

“My mother (Hanne) played a bit in Denmark and once she moved to Canada she and my father (Kelly) were into sports so they helped build a soccer field, coached and helped others coach so that’s where it started. Mom was my coach since I was 10 and taught me all the basics.”

Heidi played house league in Red Deer and joined the Renegades program when she was “11 or 12” and played with them until joining the Edmonton Strikers when she was 16.

“My goal was to play university in the States and I was told my best chance was to play in Edmonton because of the exposure, which is too bad,” she said. “I really believe there are a lot of good players in Red Deer who deserve to be recognized.”

The move to Edmonton paid off as she played with their U18 and Premier League programs and received a scholarship to the U of Mobile.

“One of my coaches (with the Strikers) was in c0ntact with a girl who was on their team and he got her to contact me and she contacted a coach in Mobile about me. They said they were very interested and contacted me and said if I could make my way down there they’d pay for the ID camp and it went from there.”

She had four solid seasons with the U of M squad and was twice named First-Team All-Conference and scholastic athlete of the year.

Heidi got her first taste of international competition following her first year with Mobile.

“A girl on the university team was from Denmark and had contact plus my mom’s family and friends are there and a lot of them are involved in soccer. So it worked out that for three summers I played in Denmark,” she said.

Heidi graduated from Mobile with an accounting degree in May.

“I originally wanted to take athletic training but needed additional courses so accounting it was,” she said. “Actually I’m interested in business law, and I may still look at that after my playing days are over in maybe 15 years … whenever soccer has kicked me to the ground.

“My career has been a long and slow process, but every step has been incredible and I still have big plans and dreams what I want to do.”

She’d love to get into coaching when her playing days are over. She’s already involved with the Renegades U15 girls program.

“I was training with the U15 program before Covid and was asked by my former coach Ezad (Elkaz) to help with the technical side and training. He said I could be an inspiration to the girls.

“I’ve really enjoyed it and since I’ve been home I’m in contact with the girls by zoom once a week and they’re doing fantastic.”

Since arriving home in the middle of November Heidi had 14 days of isolation before getting back outside to train.

“I’ve been shovelling off fields to play but mainly I’m in the basement as I have a big area to mess around in,” she said with a laugh.

Heidi will decide in the next few weeks where she’ll be next year.

“If I return to Iceland it will likely be in May as their league starts in June, but I haven’t talked with anyone yet.”

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at danrode@shaw.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police have charged two men after they allegedly tried to break into the Bentley post office with a semi. (Photo courtesy of RCMP)
Red Deer men charged in Bentley post office destruction

Police have charged a pair of Red Deer men after an attempted… Continue reading

Red Deer Fire Chief Ken McMullen remains concerned about “inconsistencies” in the province’s new way of dispatching local ambulances. (Advocate file photo).
A few glitches are already noticed in Red Deer’s new ambulance dispatch system

Local fire-medics need more data about ambulance arrival times

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province still hopes to bring the hospitalization number down before relaxing restrictions. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
14 new deaths, 366 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta

Province nearing 100K COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Cervus Equipment is planning to set up a new location near Highways 2 and 42 in Red Deer County. Graphic contributed
Cervus Equipment eyeing new Red Deer County location

Farm equipment busy looking to set up near Highways 2 and 42

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

This undated photo provided by the Polk County Sheriff's Office, in Florida, shows Joshua Colon. On Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, officials said that Colon, who had been recently named “Paramedic of the Year,” helped a supervisor steal COVID-19 vaccines meant for first responders. (Polk County Sheriff's Office via AP)
‘Paramedic of the Year’ accused of helping to steal vaccine

‘Paramedic of the Year’ accused of helping to steal vaccine

FILE - In this July 31, 2019, file photo, migrants return to Mexico, using the Puerta Mexico bridge that crosses the Rio Grande river in Matamoros, Mexico, on the border with Brownsville, Texas. A federal judge on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, barred the U.S. government from enforcing a 100-day deportation moratorium that is a key immigration priority of President Joe Biden. U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a temporary restraining order sought by Texas, which sued on Friday against a Department of Homeland Security memo that instructed immigration agencies to pause most deportations. Tipton said the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.” (AP Photo/Emilio Espejel, File)
Judge bars Biden from enforcing 100-day deportation ban

Judge bars Biden from enforcing 100-day deportation ban

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2021, file photo, registered Nurse Shyun Lin, left, administers Alda Maxis, 70, the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site in the William Reid Apartments in the Brooklyn borough of New York. An increasing number of COVID-19 vaccination sites around the U.S. are canceling appointments because of vaccine shortages in a rollout so rife with confusion and unexplained bottlenecks. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool, File)
US boosting vaccine deliveries amid complaints of shortages

US boosting vaccine deliveries amid complaints of shortages

In this image from video, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the president pro tempore of the Senate, who is presiding over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, swears in members of the Senate for the impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (Senate Television via AP)
GOP largely sides against holding Trump impeachment trial

GOP largely sides against holding Trump impeachment trial

People make their way through floodwaters in Beira Mozambique, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. The Mozambican port city of Beira breathed a sigh of relief as Cyclone Eloise caused less damage than feared as it passed through, but the danger of flooding remained in a region still recovering from a devastating cyclone two years ago. (AP Photo)
UN: 250,000 people affected by Cyclone Eloise in Mozambique

UN: 250,000 people affected by Cyclone Eloise in Mozambique

This image released by the Sundance Institute shows Rita Moreno in a scene from "Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It," an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. (Sundance Institute via AP)
With many hungry for content, Sundance market heats up

With many hungry for content, Sundance market heats up

FILE - Actor Danny Huston attends the National Board of Review awards gala in New York on Jan. 8, 2019. Growing up in Ireland, one of his favorite memories was when his father, director John Huston, would bring out the projector and they’d gather around to watch his films. “The Maltese Falcon” was always a highlight. Now the film is celebrating its 80th anniversary. It’s returning to theaters through Fathom Events for a limited engagement on Wednesday. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
‘The Maltese Falcon’ returns to theatres at ripe age of 80

‘The Maltese Falcon’ returns to theatres at ripe age of 80

This photo provided by Eli Lilly shows the drug bamlanivimab. On Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, the company said that the two-antibody combo of bamlanivimab and etesevimab reduced the risk of hospitalizations or death by 70% in newly diagnosed, non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients at high risk of serious illness because of age or other health conditions. (Eli Lilly via AP)
Studies extend hopes for antibody drugs against COVID-19

Studies extend hopes for antibody drugs against COVID-19

Most Read