HOW HAS NIAS PLAYED A PART IN YOUR SPORTING JOURNEY?
NIAS is a fantastic organisation and stepping stone for regional athletes wanting to perform at a high level. During my time with NIAS I was treated as a whole person, not only placing emphasis on pitch performance, but also many other factors that make up an athlete, which focused on the NIAS’s attributes; “Potential on and off the field”.
NIAS also placed a heavy focus on the future possibilities if we were unable to reach the next level in our sporting career and got us thinking about other possible career options that could be an option in assisting athletes or working right beside them.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME AN ELITE ATHLETE?
Mainly my friends and family… My friends taught me to stand up for myself, act with dignity and integrity and always dream big. I did just that as a keen 10-year-old, I wanted to be the absolute best I could.
I was committed to my training, always turning up 30mins early to work on a few individual skills, plus help the coach with anything he needed a hand with.
I placed value on always having a chat with the coach and helping out where I could with setting drills up, because I appreciated that they were dedicated and investing 2 hours of their time each week to help us, learn, grow and have fun.
When I was in the under 14s, I made it my mission to be selected for the NIAS under 16s squad.
I believed I wasn’t good enough, because I was surrounded by so many talented athletes, but this didn’t stop my dedication and motivation to perform at my best. I made the under 16s women’s football squad for NIAS and that was the most fulfilling moment in my junior years playing football.
Australian Matilda’s defender, Alanna Kennedy was an athlete that inspired me to be my true self on and off the field. A quote that Alanna said in one of her press conferences, that has always resonated with me is, “When you’re in a team environment, you want to contribute as best you can, even if it is from the sideline”.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A YOUNG ASPIRING RURAL ATHLETE?
My biggest piece of advice for young aspiring rural athletes is to be diligent, focused, work hard and be kind to yourself and others.
Utilise all resources that people, coaches, family and friends, provide you. Being a rural athlete, unfortunately we are at a disadvantage as we have to travel a lot more than metropolitan athletes… but, embrace it all with positivity. Think of your sporting career as a marathon, not a sprint.
Skills and talented athletes are not made overnight. Be humble, have huge amounts of gratitude, and always thank your coaches, family and friends for supporting you along the journey.
WHAT LEVEL OF COMMITMENT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE?
It takes a huge amount of commitment and discipline to be a professional athlete and commit to the process and pathways involved.
Support at all levels is critical, but of utmost importance is to have self-belief and a strong mentality. You have to want to be the best, so you have to do the hard work and be dedicated to the process and opportunities in front of you.
Know what you want to accomplish and focus on the process, rather than the outcome. Some days you are going to feel like you don’t want to train, but always remember why you started this journey. Try to be 1% better every day.
CAN YOU SHARE ONE SPECIAL NIAS MOMENT OR MEMORY?
I loved the training camps, in whatever location we were, Tamworth, Armidale, Inverell.
We were fortunate as a squad to travel down to Sydney to train at the fantastic facility at Knox boarding school, and play against their under 16s boys squad.
It was a fantastic match, and as a squad we were absorbing the atmosphere of playing football on a fantastic pitch and out of the bush. It was a fantastic opportunity also for the squad to really bond and spend time away with each other away from our hometown.
IS THERE A PARTICULAR COACH, VOLUNTEER OR PROGRAM PERSONNEL WHO STANDS OUT?
James Cooper was CEO of NIAS when I was involved in the soccer program, and he always made an effort to get to know people. He was so dedicated to providing whatever the coaches and athletes needed to excel.
In my first trial session for the under 16s squad, he knew I didn’t know many of the other athletes, and he told me “don’t be afraid out there, just think it’s just a normal training session just at a more intense level”.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?
I would like to thank former and present NIAS staff and coaches for their constant dedication to regional athletes and for creating opportunities and pathways for athletes to excel.
I love the opportunity I have been given to be able to give back to the NIAS athletes with my position at Rural Fit in the Strength & Conditioning and Rehabilitation sector.