One of the stars of the inaugural St. Albert Impact United Women’s Soccer (UWS) team is moving on to the next chapter of her professional career, taking her across the world to play professional soccer in Europe.
Emily Burns, who served as the club’s keeper this summer, officially signed on in France to play division one soccer with ASSE Féminines, based out of Saint-Étienne, France.
This transatlantic move comes after a fantastic year in the Impact net during the first year the team played in the high-calibre North American league. Due to COVID-19, the Impact were only able to play four games this season.
Perhaps the high-point of her short time with the club came in the team’s debut game at Riel Recreation Park as she stood on her head against Calgary-Foothills to capture the first-ever UWS win for St. Albert.
Burns said she cherishes her time spent in the community and doesn't regret a second playing close to her hometown in Sherwood Park.
“I jumped at the chance to play with the Impact in the UWS because it’s a lot nicer to be playing at home,” said Burns. “It was great to see a lot of Edmonton talent compete in this league...I was super happy to be a part of it.”
The opportunity in France came up rather quickly for Burns. Her agent had been scouring offers from Europe over the summer and came to Burns with the ASSE Féminine offer in late July. Burns said she jumped all over it when it was presented.
“It’s division one in France, that’s like a dream come true,” said Burns. “I signed shortly after and hopped on a plane [to France]!”
Of course, moving halfway across the world is not without its struggles. Burns is no stranger to competing across the pond, having played a season in Spain and tournaments in Kazakhstan, but this will be a unique experience for her.
Burns said the language barrier is a little bit of a struggle but her strong background in French is helping her quite a bit.
“I took French from elementary all the way up to high school and then I continued it in university,” said Burns. “It’s definitely been a little bit of a challenge, just because it’s not my first language.”
There is also going to be a culture shift when playing in front of French fans. While the community support for the Impact was fantastic in their one home game this summer, Burns is expecting a rowdier crowd from a nation who lives and breathes the sport.
“Within the city, you already see that everyone is very passionate about the team,” said Burns. “You see our symbol and our logo everywhere and people stop you on the street to wish you good luck...so it’s definitely quite a soccer culture [in France], which is really cool.”
The mood from the Impact about the signing is nothing but positive. While the club is sad to see one of their star players leave, they are also very supportive and happy to see Burns succeed.
Head coach and manager of the Impact, Troye Flannery has a long history with the keeper and said she was among the very best players he had the privilege of coaching.
“She has always been in my opinion one of the best shot-stoppers I’ve worked with,” said Flannery. “If anyone needs to know anything about Emily Burns, just watch the highlights of her first game with the Impact.”
“The sky's the limit for her and she’s still young.”