Interview by: Matthew Pedias
Matthew Pedias: “First off we wanted to thank you for taking the time to do this with us. Why don’t we start off with a little introduction as to who you are on and off the field? What is your position and favourite club?
Aaliyah Scott: “My favourite club in the world is Barcelona because I like the way they play. They play tiki-taka style and they use that with the best players like Messi, Neymar, Suarez and they compliment the team really well. I play either attacking mid or wing because I like to dribble a lot, take players on and get shots in the box.”
MP: “So, why soccer? What drove you to compete in this specific sport growing up as a child?”
AS: “Well, actually my brother played when he was about six or seven, so I always grew up watching him on the sidelines everyday. I wanted to be like him. My goal was to get at least ten juggles when I was five, and I couldn’t so I kept on working at it. Eventually my brother [stopped] playing since he didn’t want to anymore, so then my mom enrolled me in soccer and it went on from there.”
MP: “If you had to compare your style of play to any player, male or female around the world, who would it be and why?”
AS: “I’d say Neymar, because I like his imagination and I try to use as much imagination on the field [as I can]. Trying stuff like 360’s or nutmegging people.”
MP: “Do you have any pre-game rituals that get into or do you not believe in that?”
AS: “I don’t believe in that!”
MP: “What are a few characteristics that you possess as a player that makes you stand out amongst your peers? Whether that be in Toronto Skillz or the National Team Pool?
AS: “First of all, I’m very hard-working. I want to push everyday to get better and better. I’m very dedicated at home, I touch the ball as much as I can and it’s literally a part of me. Being in the national team pool is very hard, since you have to work for what you want. There’s probably 10,000 girls that are trying to get my spot on the national team so I have to keep working hard and I can never feel secure.”
MP: “Describe the atmosphere that you faced at both CONCACAF Tournaments”
AS: “I’d say it was very professional. At my age group, they are trying to make us into more mature players. Here’s an example, when we just came from the airport in Grenada, there were two police cars driving behind and in front of our team bus because they were so scared that anything could happen to us. I just felt secure. It made me feel like [I’m] a professional player. The area around the dressing room was fantastic. I saw the stands and there was at least a couple hundred or couple thousand people there and I was just like ‘they want to come watch me?”
MP: “If you could name one person either retired or still an active player, that you would consider as your role model, who would it be and why?”
AS: “I would say Ronaldinho, because he is a very technical player, and that’s like me. His attitude is very good and he taught Messi the qualities that he needs to play at Barcelona [in order to] get to the next level.”
MP: “Although it only just began, what would you say the best moment of your career is thus far?”
AS: “I’d probably say the inter squad that I played at my camp in January, then the under 14 to under 17 NEX (National Excel) camp. It was great because that was probably the biggest deciding factor for the squad and who went to Granada. I scored two major goals, like ‘Messi goals.’ I dribbled through the whole team to score those. Being a younger player, I had to stand out in that camp because I’m smaller. I obviously have to use my strengths and show my stuff. I made the team in Grenada and that was just a great feeling to know that the inter squad pushed me there.”
MP: “So how has SAAC, and specifically Toronto Skillz helped you develop into the player you are today?”
AS: “Like I said before, they tried to develop the European style in their club. So, they brought out the confidence in me, especially Tiger and Jake. They gave me the freedom on the field. The best thing is that I play with boys. Their faster, stronger and they are smart on the ball, so I learn from them. Just getting to know them and playing with them makes me a better player.”
MP: “You mentioned you played with boys, describe what that’s like for you and how important it is to you?”
AS: “They’re bigger, faster and stronger. So you learn from that. Girls play a different style of soccer than guys, so it’s great for girls to learn that tiki-taka style and that creativeness.
MP: “What was your initial reaction when you were called to play for the Canadian National Team? Where were you when you heard?”
AS: “I was super excited. First of all, I was [young] and I didn’t think I’d make it because I’m smaller than everyone. So, I was at practice and my coaches came up to me and said ‘guess what?’ and then they said I made the National Team. I couldn’t believe it.”
MP: “Size is just an obstacle, you look at some of the best players around the world like Messi, they’re small players but they have the skill, the touch and it just make everything look natural. When you have that, size doesn’t matter at all.”
MP: “Being in the Women’s National Excel Camp is no small feat, let alone being there at the age of 13. How hard did you have to work to get to that spot?”
AS: “I had to work really hard, doing extra fitness and working on my own more because I’m smaller and I have to stand out as much as possible. When your younger, it’s harder to make it onto the older age groups if you don’t stand out as a player.”
MP: “How has the last year and a half been inside that national pool and how have you grown as both a player and a person?”
AS: “Well, it’s been really stressful because obviously school has taken a big toll. I made a lot of sacrifices like missing weddings and such, I just have to always work really hard.”
MP: “I’m sure that whoever’s wedding it was will forgive you when you come back with an Olympic Gold medal in a couple of years. I think they’ll forgive you, just remember to take a picture with them!”
MP: “What is your dream as a professional player and what do you strive to achieve?”
AS: “I want to play in Europe once I get older after University. I want to play somewhere like PSG (Paris Saint German) where all the best players play like Henry.”
MP: “What would you say is your favourite moment with SAAC/Toronto Skillz?”
AS: “My favourite moment was playing in the semi-final two-years ago in the U14 boys division. We played against FC Durham for the Fall Challenge. It was just a great experience because we beat them and it was my first ever final in SAAC. I just loved playing with the boys and dominating that game.”
MP: “What would you say to anybody that could be reading this interview on our site and want to replicate what you’ve done so far?”
AS: “I would say every player experiences setbacks. I didn’t make the World Cup squad [Current U17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan], but it’s going to push me to become a better player and to stand out more. I’d say to not let setbacks bring you down and to help them push you forward into a better player.”
On behalf of everyone here at SAAC, we want to thank Aaliyah for taking the time to talk to us and wish her nothing but success in her professional career.
Thanks to Canada Soccer for the photos.