It takes so much more than skill and talent to be a professional athlete. It takes drive, determination, passion, discipline and a never give up attitude. All qualities that we love here at LJ!
Kicking off the new season with a win in round 1, we caught up with Nikola Orgill from the Newcastle Jets to get the inside scoop on what it takes to be a professional football player.
When did you start playing football?
I started kicking a ball around pretty much as soon as I could stand up! I grew up playing in the streets with my brother and our neighbours all the time, but I didn’t play in a proper organised team until I was about 13.
How did you first get involved in football?
I lived in Asia for 12 years and there wasn’t as much opportunity for organised sport where I was living. I moved back to Australia when I was 13 and a friend asked me to come along to train with the local team (Mosman FC). I’ve been playing ever since!
How did you decide that this is what you wanted to pursue professionally?
I have always loved football more than anything else, but growing up it was never really a feasible option as a female athlete to make a career out of playing. So it was always more of a hobby.
When I was coming to the end of my 5 year university degree and looking at law graduate jobs, I realised that my passion was still with football.
Given the women’s game had developed so much by then, I made the decision to give it my all and push to make the National Women’s League.
What training did you need to do to qualify for the W-League?
I was doing football specific training at least 5 times a week plus a match each weekend. I am also a big believer in doing a mix of different types of training to prevent injury and keep things interesting. So, on top of that I was doing a couple of swim and gym sessions a week too.
What does a ‘day in the life’ look like for you?
I have just moved up to Newcastle for the upcoming season and am living with a teammate.
A typical day involves a morning gym session with the team at 8 – 9:30am.
After that we usually head to the freezing ocean baths for leg recovery and then buy a coffee to warm up!
We then make a big breakfast and get into some study (I am currently doing my Masters of International Security and Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice).
Then it is more food, usually our main meal at lunch, and then off to football training from 4 – 6:30.
I am usually exhausted by then so it is just a quick dinner, shower and off to bed!
What has been the biggest challenge that you have experienced so far, and how did you overcome it?
When I was 19 I nearly broke my back playing football. I was involved in a really bad tackle and I couldn’t feel my legs at all.
I was living interstate at the time and it was Mother’s Day so my Mum and brother had travelled to watch me play. It was a pretty scary time for all of us.
An ambulance came and took me to the hospital for X-rays. Just before the X-ray results came back I started to regain some movement in my legs and then we were told the good news, that there was no structural damage to my spine. My spinal disks had just been compressed from impact.
It took quite a long time to recover and for me to be pain-free with full range of motion in my neck and back again.
While the physical recovery was a big challenge, the biggest challenge was mentally coming back from the incident and being able to be back on the pitch and playing again without fear.
It took time and a lot of support from friends and family but I eventually overcame my fear and I definitely think I am stronger and more resilient for it.
What do you love most about being a professional football player?
Obviously I love the fact that I get to play football as much as I do!
But I also love the active and healthy lifestyle that goes along with it and the opportunities to travel and live either interstate or overseas for periods of the year.
What do you find the hardest in your position?
For me it is hardest to stay focused defensively. I have always been an attacking player but in the W-league I play as a defender so it has been a bit of an adjustment to switch from my natural attacking mindset to a more defensive one.
I am enjoying the challenge and learning the new role.
How do you move?
My exercise is balanced between high-intensity workouts, (such as football training and weight sessions), longer distance runs and a number of more recovery focused workouts, like swimming, pilates and yoga.
I also make a conscious effort to use my car as little as possible so my movement involves a lot of walking and cycling each day.
How do you nourish?
I absolutely love food and cooking (and am always hungry!) so I am constantly looking up new recipes and food inspiration to try.
Having lived in Asia and with a European Mum, I have been exposed to a lot of different foods and I try to incorporate a wide range of cuisines into my cooking to make sure eating healthy stays exciting!
With my training load being so high and the fact that I am a pescatarian, I make sure to keep informed and up to date with the best types of fuel for me.
Given my schedule is quite busy at the moment, I also make sure to plan the majority of my meals for the week in advance to make sure I am having a healthy and balanced diet.
How do you believe?
Having taken up football relatively late and taking time off at various stages to travel and focus on my studies, there were a lot of people who said that it would be too difficult for me to be selected into the W-league.
It never really phased me what people said and if anything just gave me more drive to prove them wrong.
I worked really hard and trialled at a couple of clubs before getting my first contract with the Western Sydney Wanderers last season.
Making it to the W-league really did teach me to have confidence in what I believe in and that working hard pays off. You just have to be patient and trust in the process.
Who inspires you and why?
It might be a bit of a cliche answer but my Mum, without a doubt.
Her strength, resilience and her kindness inspire me everyday and there is no way I would be where I am today without her influence and support.
What are your go to Instagram accounts… aside from @lornajaneactive?
What are you looking forward to the most in your first season with your team?
The team vibe at the Newcastle Jets is brilliant! We have a great coach and an awesome team and I am just looking forward to getting out there and playing for the club.
Playing against my old club (Western Sydney Wanderers) in round one will also make for an exciting start to the season!
The Australian W-League has just kicked off a new season.
Will you be following the W-League?