With Christmas Day also being her birthday, the Doncaster Belles thought no better time to announce the midfielder had penned a new deal to keep her at the club through the 2017-18 season.
New role, new responsibilities
Midfielder Sophie Barker has spent most of 2016 playing a more unfamiliar full-back role for the club she joined from Sheffield at the end of the 2014 season. Although shaky at first, Barker grew into her new role on the pitch and was running the channels like a seasoned pro’ by the end of the season and although her hard work on the pitch wasn’t enough to keep her club from slipping back to WSL 2, the industrious Barker has more than earned her new deal.
Having started life out at home town Lincoln City, Barker progressed through the youth ranks before spending seven years with the Lady Imps first team, the end of her tenure marked with a loan to neighbouring Rotherham United.
A loan at Nettleham paired with her time at Sheffield before she made the switch back to WSL football when she joined the Belles in 2015, helping the Donny to promotion back to WSL 1. An every-present for the Belles in during their last season in WSL 2, Barker featured in all but one match for the Doncaster team in 2015, so to this year, having started all 19 matches (in all competitions) for the Belles.
Player of the Season
A tireless worker on the pitch, keen to acquaint herself with her new role in 2016, Barker certainly earned the praises of new boss Emma Coates who picked the Lincoln-native as the player to win the manager’s Player of the Season award at the Belles’ end of season do.
Speaking about the new deal, Coates remained as enthused about Barker calling her a “valuable member of the team,” well respected by her teammates, Coates states she is a, “delighted to have her on board.” Describing the utility woman as “an intelligent footballer” and “an all-round important member” of the team.
Birthday girl Barker was delighted with her new deal, never wanting to be anywhere other than the Keepmoat, the Belles is “the place” Barker wants to be. Having been given a boost by Coates continued faith in her, the midfielder said she felt like she’d come a long way over the course of the season, “improving massively”, for Barker the Belles is “the best place” for her to be.