Rio Hardy Living the Dream Out in Cyprus With Apollon Limassol

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Apollon Limassol centre-forward Rio Hardy is living the dream out in Cyprus with her twin sister Steffi Hardy and says the standard of football on the island is improving all the time.

Rio Hardy Enjoying Her Football Out in Cyprus

Hardy Impressed With Backing for Women’s Football

The Hardy twins compete in the nine-team Cypriot First Division, and Rio spoke about the tremendous backing her club gives to women’s football.

In a virtual press conference organised by NextGen Sport Solutions, she said: “We have the same name as the men’s team, but we’re not affiliated with them.

“All of our support comes from our club president, the vice president and the board members. Although we’re not affiliated with the men’s team, we’re still very well supported here.

“Overall, I’ve definitely seen an improvement since I’ve arrived, not just in our team, but in other teams as well. The others see the standard we’ve set ourselves and they’re fighting to try and make themselves better. Most of the teams train every night, so there are improvements coming from all around the league.”

Apollon Limassol a Dominant Force

Hardy is part of a Limassol team that are the current reigning champions and dominant force on the island, winning all 16 of their league games at the time of writing and scoring 93 goals in the process.

Despite the gap in quality between Limassol and the rest, the 24-year-old says the players are constantly kept on their toes and explained there is no room for complacency.

“We are very dominant, but our coach gives us little goals in training, in terms of working on one-touch finishing or finishing from a cross.

“The coach gives us these things that we work on, but it’s also up to us as players to make it challenging for ourselves and create the intensity we need to reach.

“A lot of that comes from the way we train; We train pretty much every day, so we have that drive to make ourselves better and take that into games.

“We have this environment where it’s okay to make mistakes and we can try anything we want to as players to express ourselves.”

Island Life

The forward spoke more about the lifestyle on the island and explained that a tenuous grasp of Greek has not caused her too many problems.

“Everybody on the island speaks English fluently, so I’ve not had any problems with communication. In terms of our team, we have girls from a lot of different countries.

“Last season we had something like nine different nationalities on our team, so you learn a little bit of each language. It’s usually the bad words you learn! I know a few words in Greek, but I wouldn’t say I’m fluent by any means!

“In terms of our training, we try not to stay outside too much in the summer because it can get up to 40 degrees, so we’ll go and train indoors in an air-conditioned environment.

“The overall way of life here is very relaxed, and in my spare time I can go to the beach or grab a coffee – that suits me a lot.”

Long-Term Ambition to Return to England

Despite being content in Cyprus, Hardy admits her long-term ambition would be to return to England and play under the management of a former Lioness captain in the Women’s Super League.

“It’s my dream to play in England. To play in the top division in your own country is something you always want to do as a kid. With the WSL becoming more professional each year, that dream becomes bigger.

“I would love to play for Manchester United. It’s great to see how much they’ve progressed in a short space of time – not just as a player, but as a fan too.

“It’s great to see Manchester United are now putting money into their women’s team. A few years ago, they didn’t have one.

“So, to go from nothing to being close to the top of the league and challenging for the Champions League places is an amazing thing to do in such a short space of time.”