Derby County Ladies Football Club

African Adventure for Player of the Year Molly Johnson

It’s been one hell of a season for Derby County Ladies defender Molly Johnson, wrapping up both the Managers Player of the Year and the Players’ Player of the Year, but it’s fair to say her off-season has been more than hectic.

Johnson spent seven weeks working out in Tanzania in Africa as part of her university course at Sheffield Hallam and the Ewe Rams star told DCLFC Media that it was a once in a lifetime experience and something that she will look back at, with amazing memories.

Molly said “It was an awesome experience and I didn’t realise that the time I gave would be so rewarding, not only to myself but to those that I was out there teaching. 

“The best part of the trip was going into the schools, despite having little resources the children were so happy. They were especially happy that we had come to deliver sport to them as this is an opportunity they don’t normally get.”

The Derby County Ladies defender was there on a six week programme to deliver leadership programmes, focusing on the STEPS (Space, Task, Equipment, People, Speed) style, delivering weekly courses across three weeks to college students. 

Whilst over in Tanzania, Molly also had the opportunity to coach football at schools and to take some training sessions in the evenings, something she has experience in with her time as a coach for Sheffield Wednesday Ladies Under 12’s. 

Molly also got the opportunity to take to the field, playing for the Future Stars Women’s team that was full of different nationalities. One of the unique aspects of the course was also coaching a team in the East Africa Cup, a tournament with teams from various countries in the region. 

Asked if it was something she would do again, Johnson said she had no doubt she’d do it again ” I would definitely do something similar again, going away to a deprived county is so rewarding. I would encourage anyone to take the opportunity if given, i was able to develop so much as a person and as a coach.”

Going to a developing country is a unique experience for anybody but Molly did have some reservations as she said “In the run up to the trip i was excited, it wasn’t until we set of to the airport that nerves begun and i realised i would be living away for almost 2 months with 5 boys who i barley knew.

“Being away from your family for that period of time at my age was not easy. In the run-up to going I was focused on raising money to fund the trip and I am grateful for everyone who contributed. I took part in a bike ride at my local Decathlon store, I set up a JustGiving page and my mum did a car boot sale to help out.”

Molly’s mum Paula, whilst apprehensive of the trip herself told DCLFC Media ” It was a very proud mum moment for me when Molly decided to take the opportunity. It was also amazing to see and hear that Molly had impacted on many lives whilst over there.

“Molly being able to send text messages and use wifi when possible was a big help knowing she was safe and I was very anxious at first just hoping the flights were booked properly, but once I found out that they had arrived safe in Tanzania and had met up with Sam (The Host), I was more at ease.”

It wasn’t all work whilst over in Tanzania with Molly able to take a few days on Safari and also spending a week on the beach in the middle of the placement, adding to her memories whilst over there. 

Derby County Ladies Chief Executive Duncan Gibb said “It’s been an amazing year for Molly and though I she had a great season at the club, the trip to Tanzania was the icing on the cake. We are very proud of her and hope that she remembers it forever.

“She is an outstanding role model for the club and our junior players won’t go wrong if they follow her example. I’m sure there will be many players in both the senior and academy set-ups that will be wanting to listen to stories of her time out there.”

To take a look at what Molly got up to in Tanzania – Please take a look at the video below made by Molly’s sister Alicia Johnson!