IN the second addition of our new series, we get to know the journey that another of our QPR FC Women stars has taken to get to this stage of their career with the R’s.
Spanish defender Carla Perez arrived at QPR in 2017 at the age of 17 and, like many of her teammates, have risen through the development ranks, before becoming a vital part of this season’s first-team squad.
At the tender age of eight, Carla moved to London from Barcelona and despite studying at an all-Spanish speaking school, the 20-year-old defender used the power football to help aid her development of the English language.
She said: “I moved to London when I was young and football was the main thing in my life that helped me learn the most English because, essentially, I had no choice other than to speak English when playing the sport I love in this country.
“At first, moving from my home country was difficult as I had left all my friends behind and after growing up playing football in Spain I struggled to find a women’s team here, which meant I had to play in the boy’s sides until I was 13.
"That probably makes me the type of player that I am today but after my initial struggles I am now so happy and with the help of QPR football has been able to remain a huge part of my life.”
Quick fire questions
Favourite Position: Centre-back
Best qualities as footballer: Flexible in terms of positioning and strength on and off the ball
Best qualities as a person: I am really easy to get on with, I think…
Sum yourself up in 5 words: Physical, optimistic, supportive, open, winner
Favourite type of music: Reggaeton
Footballing Role Model: Gerard Pique
Something we don’t know about you: I used to be a goalkeeper when I was younger, but I was so bad I moved to an outfield player.
Perez has always loved football from a young age, but the defender believes that her three brothers forced her to play growing up as they didn’t want a stereotypical sister.
She remembered: “They all love football, which initially got me into the sport and they literally didn’t want me to be a stereotypical girl, so I had no choice other than to join in and play football with them. I wouldn’t change it for the world now.
“However, I am interested in so many sports, I love playing tennis and when I was younger I used to play basketball, but football is the sport that I have always taken so seriously and want to succeed in.”
After signing for the QPR girl’s development programme in 2017, the defender has played for every side all the way through to the first team and after spending a vast majority of her career in west London, she has a lot of admiration for the R’s.
She said: “I have really enjoyed playing for the club, I have watched a lot of the men’s team this season and I have got a big understanding of the club’s values and ethos on the pitch. That has only benefited my game as I have been able to study players like Grant Hall and Yoann Barbet, who I have modelled my game on and been able to improve.
“Away from QPR, my biggest footballing idol is Spain’s and Barcelona’s centre-back Gerard Pique. He is a winner and a vocal character on and off the pitch and that is something I want to be in whatever I am doing in life. I would like to think that we are very similar characters and if I can play anything like him I will be so happy.”
As well as playing for the R’s, Perez also studies Early Years Education at University and is relishing the challenge of balancing her studies and her footballing career.
She said: “Hopefully in the near future, I will become a teacher. At the moment, it is hard to try and balance everything such as assignments and football, but I like it as it’s a big challenge for me and I love rising to challenges.
“QPR have been hugely supportive and always see university as a priority but thankfully my campus is quite close to where we train so I can head straight from my lectures to training, which allows everything to work really well.”
On the field, Perez could be described as quite a dominant centre half, who relishes the physical side of the game.
She said: “I am a centre back/CDM and I like competitive games, I am strong and I like a challenge, but I also enjoy keeping the ball on the floor and playing like my home team Barcelona.”
Off the field, the 20-year-old knows that her parents are vitally important to any success in life that she may achieve.
“My parents are my biggest inspiration. I play football for them. They have always been there supporting me, taking me to my games and they haven’t missed a single game, which I am so thankful for as they have put my game ahead of anything else in life and that means the world to me.
“One day, I wish I could make it professional for them but is so challenging and as a result other things in life become more of a priority. If I could play at the highest level possible then that would be fantastic.”