It had been a long time coming, but Adamstown Rosebuds product and Northern Tigers midfielder Emma Bates has finally made it official, signing with Louisiana as part of their 2022 freshman class.
A Newcastle Jets Academy player, Bates has been a member of Junior Matildas camps dating back to 2019, earmarking the midfielder as a potential star of the future. Bates has also spent time in NPL New South Wales with Northern Tigers, the same club at which VCU defender Greta Kraszula and former Louisiana-Monroe pairing Brianna and Siobhan Edwards played for prior to heading to college. A regular starter in the reserve team for the Tigers, Bates slotted home six goals in just nine appearances in 2021, whilst also earning two appearances for the first team before the COVID-19 pandemic saw the league cancelled after just 12 rounds. Bates’ talent has also been recognised with eyes on a future in the A-League, with the midfielder having played at NPL NSW level with the Emerging Jets during her time with the Jets Academy.
Louisiana had been growing over the last two seasons, improving from 3 wins in 2018 to 9 in 2019 before hitting the 10-win mark in 2020, but 2021 saw the Ragin Cajuns fall back to a 6-10-3 record. With just six pure midfielders listed in the squad of 30 in 2021, Bates’ signing fills what looks to be a real need in the Louisiana’s lineup going forward as they look to fend off challenges from a raft of new sides in the Sun Belt over the next few seasons. The league will welcome James Madison, Marshall, Old Dominion, and Southern Mississippi in 2023, which will bring a host of new challenges not only for Louisiana, but for all teams in the conference.
Unlike the majority of players, who will enrol just prior to the fall season in August, Bates will be heading to Lafayette in January, allowing the freshman an extra eight months to get settled into the program, as well as a full slate of spring friendlies prior to her first competitive fixture in August.