Just last month, the Matildas (our National Women's Football Team) created history qualifying through to their 1st ever Quarter Final berth in the recent FIFA Womens World Cup in Canada. One of the members of this team, Elise Kellond-Knight may not be a house hold name in the world of sport yet, but to women's football in OZ, she is one of our best players & her star keeps on rising! I had the pleasure to sit down & chat with Elise or "KK" as she is known to her teammates & she shared with me her how is she feeling after her 2nd World Cup Campaign & her mind, body, soul nourishment tips that she uses in her life to maintain peak physical & emotional fitness. Elise has experienced some pretty awesome high's & low's in her football career, she even considered retiring at one point & has since thrown caution to the wind & is now fully committed to making all her football dreams come true.
But hey, I’ll let you make up your own mind……
Elise is 24yrs old & has already racked up 62 international caps for her country.
She was the only Aussie selected in the FIFA All Stars Team at the 2011 FIFA World Cup.
At the peak of her career, a major knee injury forced Elise out of the game for 12mths.
Not one to be deterred, she fought her way back into the Matildas team to represent her country in her 2nd World Cup Campaign.
She won back to back player of the match awards in her recent 2015 FIFA World Cup campaign against Brazil & Sweden.
Elise has just last week linked up with her new team FFC Turbine Potsdam, one of the most successful German women’s teams in the Bundesliga.
How are you feeling after creating history with the Matildas? What were your World Cup highlights?
Looking back at the World Cup I cannot be anything but proud. The way we had the general public talking about Women’s Football across the Nation was a real turning point for me. I hope the growth in the sport continues and this just marks the starting point of a great generation of female footballers. My personal highlight was beating Brazil in the Round of 16. There was never a moment that I thought we would lose that game and it was just great to be out there on the pitch with 10 other Australian’s, putting up a real fight.
How did you manage your nerves before your games at the World Cup? What kind of mind-relaxation tools did you use to manage any anxiety you may have been feeling?
Unusually so, I actually welcomed the nerves at the recent World Cup. Prior to the WC I was struggling with form and I put it down to complacency and a lack of motivation in a sense. When the WC arrived, the team had a clear goal and the focus was at a peak. The nerves I felt meant these games were important to me and heightened my alertness. There is of course a fine line between optimal nerves and anxiety. It’s important to recognise if you are feeling overly anxious and find ways to control this which will be different for each individual. I like to take the surroundings away and just remind myself it’s a 90 minute game of football - the same game I have been playing since I was a kid. Reality checks always work. At the World Cup we used meditation and relaxation sessions. Megan Kehoe, our massage therapist took these and it really helped ease the wayward thoughts.
How did your football journey begin?
As with most of Matildas team mates, I have the common story of following my brother! Dad coached my brother’s team at a young age so I was kind of obliged to go to their training session after school. I started kicking a ball with them but they were three years my senior. Dad signed me up in with Runaway Bay Hawks in U/6 and I stayed there until I was 14 and then moved to an elite female program in Brisbane.
Who were your inspirational mentors along the way?
I had a very positive coach at Runaway Bay, Stuart Hallam. He was motivating and extremely encouraging, so much so he made me the captain of the boys until I left in U/14. After I left Runaway Bay to play with the Queensland Academy of Sport in Brisbane, I looked to senior players such as Alicia Ferguson, Kate McShea and Karla Reuter for guidance. They had a wealth of knowledge having played for Australia and attended World Cups and Olympics. Having players like that around you as a youngster is really settling.
What inspires you to keep to keep setting a higher standard for yourself?
I think most athletes have a competitive nature engrained into their genetic make up. There is always a want or a need to be the best at everything we do. I don’t like to think of it as an egotistical thing but rather a drive to achieve. Whether it’s football, university exams, golf or a board game I always want to be on the winning side. This sets high standards and I apply it to all aspects of my life. When I play football I want to be the best player on the pitch. This doesn’t mean I need to do something flashy, creative or be on the score sheet. Instead, I want to be the player who never loses the ball, who wins the ball back for the team, who communicates when players are tired, who can be relied upon and who players can look to for inspiration.
How important is recovery as an athlete? What are your top tips for recovery?
Recovery is one of the most important considerations when you think about training and games. If a player can’t back up and train consistently well with their body in good condition, they will struggle to find form for games. Being able to turn up to training everyday in perfect physical condition is a difficult thing to do and a skill that develops over a player’s career. For me the most important things are:
- Consume protein within 1hr of finishing training.
- Always stay hydrated.
- Sleep is the best recovery out of everything
- Stretch and trigger/self massage
- Learn your body! Understand what parts of your body get tight and how to loosen them off (physio can prescribe this)
How important is nutrition & fuelling your body to maintain your energy levels?
Diet is obviously super important for athletes because what you are eating will often determine how you are feeling. I eat a pretty balanced diet, perhaps a little more on the vegetarian side than not. I was iron deficient before the WC so had to jump on iron supplements to help my energy levels. I love Italian food. Simple flavours. I’ll often just have some sourdough or rye with a drizzle of olive oil before a match. My team mates look at me strangely for this.
What kind of support network do you have around you?
Family! They keep you grounded. It was so helpful to have them over in Canada with me. Between games we were able to hang out and be normal. We even went bowling together to get away from the football environment.
What setbacks have you experienced along the way & what did these setbacks teach you?
Injuries. I ruptured my ACL in 2011 after I was at a career high having made the 2011 World Cup All Stars Team. I had a year out of the game following surgery and it took me until the following World Cup this year to regain my form. Set backs always teach you resilience. It also questions your mental toughness. At times I wondered if I still wanted to play. It is a test of your love for the game.
What are your dreams & goals moving forward?
To use my football career to its potential. That may mean travelling the globe, networking or winning tournaments. I’d love to win a medal at a World Cup or Olympics. I can’t retire until we do that! it would be great for football in this country.
What are your plans beyond football? When you do close this chapter on your career, what will you be most thankful for?
I’m not sure where I’ll end up to be honest. I’m in the pharmaceutical industry at the moment and my education indicates I’ll probably stay there. I just like to be challenged and learning new things everyday. I get bored quite easily so whatever I will be doing will most probably be on the go!
You can keep up to date with Elise Kellond-Knight by following her on Instagram & Twitter @elise_kk8.