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England's Betti Worth joins Lady Knights
Oct. 9, 2012
The cliché is true: “Everything’s bigger in America.” Or at least it seems true to Betti Worth, a new Community College of Rhode Island student from Bolton, England, which is near Manchester. One thing that’s certainly bigger is the attention paid to women’s soccer, which is what has attracted Worth, an accomplished player.
In English football (as soccer is known to the rest of the world), Worth played for the young women’s versions of the Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City, both prominent professional teams. She also represented England twice in a tournament against Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland: the three-day International Rose Bowl Tournament held in Northern Ireland.
Worth always wanted to visit the United States and found her chance in summer 2011 as part of an international youth coaching program called Challenger Sports. She coached young American players in soccer starting in Baltimore and traveling up the East Coast, concluding in Rhode Island. While Worth was coaching in Barrington, a friend of CCRI Women’s Soccer Coach Dennis Grassini told him about Worth’s work ethic and skills on the field and he offered her a spot on the CCRI team. Worth accepted, spent most of a year sorting out the details and arrived in the United States in early August to the care of a host family, the McCaugheys of Warwick. Jess McCaughey is a co-captain of the Lady Knights soccer team.
Worth already has helped CCRI earn six victories as a powerful midfielder. She said she was excited to start the academic year and is looking forward to a great season with the Lady Knights. “There’s a lot of talent in the team and I think we’re going to do really well,” she said.
Worth has been a footballer since age 5, when she played with her older brother and was part of an all-boys team. She was required to go to a girls team at age 11 but she had already developed the traits that are her hallmark on the field.
“I became a very physical player,” she said. “[In America] everyone calls it ‘trucking’ when you run through people, and I had a teammate say to me, ‘I have never seen someone truck so many people in a single game.’”
After switching to women’s play, Worth was captain of the Bolton Wanderers until age 15 and was then recruited for the Manchester City Ladies. In England, players age 16 and older have to start playing in open age leagues and “This is when some youngsters feel that they can’t commit the time or effort to football because it simply takes up most of their lives,” Worth said. But she stuck with it and has achieved quite a lot since then, including leading England’s champion Rose Bowl team to victory two years in a row.
“It was a fantastic achievement to reach one of my goals and to earn that England cap that everybody dreams about,”Worth said. England caps are special headpieces given to those rare players who represent their country in international play.
“To say that you’ve got a cap is special because not many people have got one,” she said. “David Beckham has a lot of them.” Beckham has more than 100 and Worth now has two.
Worth also played for British Colleges Sport while attending Runshaw College, a school known for its athletics and sports education. In the English education system, high school ends at age 16 and students can choose whether to go to university until they are 18 or start working right away.
Worth made it through four rounds of tryouts that took place all over England to make the Runshaw team and then traveled the country for competitive play during her time there. She earned a diploma in sports science and personal training.
Because high school ends at age 16, this is the age when many English teens start acting like adults, rather than 18 or 21 in the United States. While Worth’s friends started driving and going out on the town, she continued to practice diligently but eventually wanted a chance to go back to school while staying serious about soccer.
“In England, I know players who are doing really well but they’re not focusing on anything else,” Worth said. She wonders what they will do when their football careers are over – probably in about 10 years – or if they receive a serious injury.
“I needed to get back into my studying,” she said. “Here in America you’ve got the two pathways (athletics and academics) coming together as one.”
The Challenger Sports Program was Worth’s opportunity to come to the United States and she was excited to accept because she believes that women’s soccer receives more support in America.
“Women’s soccer out here, to us, seems like a huge, popular sport,” she said. “There a lot more opportunities here for you if you are a women’s soccer player compared to in England.”
When Worth eventually came to Grassini’s attention, he offered her a slot on his team without even having seen her play. “We’ve done that before and we’ve been very lucky,” Grassini said about relying on his players’ reputation, “and we lucked out again.”
He added, “Betti brings a lot of strength to the team as a midfielder. She’s got a nice shot … she’s tough to move out of the middle and she’s got great foot skills.”
Worth said she was excited to play for CCRI because the Knights are a talented and dedicated team that also cares about academics. “I’m hopefully going to excel in my sport but here I also have my teachers and all of their support,” she said.
Worth hopes to be a personal trainer and maybe start her own soccer coaching business someday. She is signed up for general education courses at CCRI for now but is considering courses in business as a precursor to sports management.
“You never know where you’re going to end up,” Worth said. “I just know I’m going to put 100 percent into it all and hopefully achieve my goals.”