Football in the centre of a stadium pitch with confetti falling

From Pitch To Professional

University of Reading graduate, Faid Salmoon, shares with CONNECTED how her childhood passion became her profession when she was offered the position of soccer coach for Los Angeles Football Club. 

Faid joined the University of Reading in 2019 when she embarked on a MPharm in Pharmacy, a decision that was inspired by a deep-rooted desire to help others. Choosing Reading however,  was influenced by the reputation of the Reading School of Pharmacy.

Reflecting on her academic pursuits, she said: “I am fascinated by healthcare and am passionate about making a positive impact on people’s lives, so pursuing a master’s in pharmacy felt like a natural choice. I wanted to delve deeper into the science behind medications and treatments, with the ultimate goal of contributing to the wellbeing of people.

“Reading’s reputation for excelling in pharmacy education, along with its supportive academic environment and vibrant campus community, attracted me to study here. I was particularly drawn to the opportunities for research and practical experience that the University offered.”

Faid’s journey at Reading wasn’t solely confined to the classroom however and joining Reading University Women’s Football Club (RUWFC) during her first year allowed her to continue her passion for sport while she studied. She reminisced:

“Football has been an integral part of my life since childhood and I’ve been actively playing since the age of five. It’s a passion that has shaped my life and continues to drive my aspirations in the world of sports.”

Faid shared with CONNECTED the benefits of playing a sport while studying and her journey from student athlete to professional coach.

Sense of belonging

For Faid, sport was a core part of her university experience, as she became coach for RUWFC during her third year. She explained: “I thoroughly enjoyed coaching the team and being able to contribute towards its development. As a coach you are a role model both on and off the field – you aim to teach skills like tactics, cognition, managing emotions, decision-making and teamwork.

“Some of my fondest memories are of the camaraderie and sense of unity – celebrating victories together and overcoming challenges as a collective force.

The RUWFC team standing in their kit in front of a goal“The Union nights with the society after matches and Varsity games hold a special place in my heart, as do the friendships forged with peers from a range of backgrounds – who I wouldn’t have known if it hadn’t been for Reading and for football.

“Being part of this team gave me a real sense of belonging.”

Football also provided a skillset that could be applied off the pitch. Faid explained: “Joining a sports team during my studies really enhanced my overall wellbeing because of the physical activity and social interaction, but it also gave me skills that were applicable to both my studies and life in general. It really improved my time management skills and being part of a team fosters leadership, communication and teamwork abilities that are all applicable to many aspects of life.”

A new chapter

Faid on a field holding a footballSince graduating, Faid is set to make a lasting impact on the future generation of athletes as she embarks on a new chapter. She has been offered a job as Coach with Los Angeles Football Club (LA FC) – an opportunity that came as surprise. She said: “I went to LA FC to watch my cousin who is a recreational referee and works on Saturdays for them. I was so invested in it that I couldn’t help but get involved. They asked me about my background – and from there, I was offered the opportunity to join them as a full-time coach.”

Faid will be working with children who, like her, have discovered a passion for the sport at a young age.

She explained: “I’ll get to work with children ranging from 2 years old to top ECNL [Elite Clubs National League] youth teams, focusing on their development, growth and success.

“To go from coaching the University team to coaching a Major League Soccer team in America – which is the equivalent of the Premier League in the UK – is a really exhilarating and humbling experience.

“I’m ecstatic about the opportunity and look forward to embracing the vibrant culture, and of course the sunshine of LA. It’s a dream come true.”

Looking forward

Although coaching is a dream come true for Faid, this isn’t the end of her pharmaceutical journey – and she believes you can have the best of both worlds. She explained: “Football has always been the most consistent thing in my life, but even as a child I dreamt of working as a pharmacist during the week and playing football in the evenings and at the weekends. My dream hasn’t changed really, but now it is balancing coaching with pharmacy.”

As someone who is living the dream, Faid would encourage anyone considering joining a sports society to “go for it”. She said: “I would tell anyone to seize the opportunity wholeheartedly.

“Not only does joining a sports society offer you a chance to pursue interests outside of academic study or work, but it helps hugely with personal growth, creates lifelong friendships and gives you so many skills that extend beyond the realm of sports.

“Particularly for women and women in football, embracing our passion can help break down barriers and contribute to a more inclusive and diverse sporting environment.”

Did you play a sport while you were at the University of Reading? Share your story with us.