The dedication and determination of the Brisbane Roar Women was highlighted today when several players spoke about the challenges they face in striving for excellence in a semi-professional environment.
As they prepare for their Westfield W-League Semi-Final showdown with undefeated Premiers Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Monday (3.30pm kick-off, Qld time), the Roar players took time off work to discuss their busy daily schedules.
The majority of the Roar Women squad have full- or part-time jobs or combine training with full-time study.
Their occupations include school teachers, social workers, business owners, the Australian Army, office workers and baristas – to name a few.
They do gym sessions early in the morning before starting work and then scramble through the evening peak-hour traffic to get to their training base at Capalaba for a 90-minute session from 5.30pm, upto four times a week.
Roar captain and Matildas co-captain Clare Polkinghorne works in the office at Worldwide Printing Solutions and Colour Synergy, the South Brisbane-based business run by long-time Roar supporter and commercial partner George Bacic.
"I've really struck gold here, Worldwide have been amazing," said Polkinghorne as she detailed how the company was understanding and flexible in allowing her to pursue her football dreams.
The defender says it can be challenging some days to meet commitments within and outside of her football schedule.
"We have to juggle quite well, but it is something we always have had to do . . . and we love what we do. We try to fit as much as we can into the day," Polkinghorne said.
"Hopefully it gets to the point in Australia where women can play football professionally and exert all their energy in that one field.
"We are on the right path and I think we are definitely going to get there."
Roar Women striker Emily Gielnik often takes a direct line to goal and is just as straight shooting as a budding business owner.
Her new gym and coffee shop at Capalaba – Shredem – is just weeks from opening.
Gielnik said she always had a dream to be involved in the fitness industry but didn't want it to be at the expense of developing her football potential.
"The fact that I can play football semi-professionally and open up a gym, they tie in really well together. I love it," she said.
"Football for women is growing rapidly. It is getting bigger and bigger. Before I retire I'd like to be among the milestones it can reach."
Roar Women Coach Belinda Wilson says her season is a constant juggle as she strives to complete the season targets while remaining understanding of her players' other commitments.
"You've got your basic squad and then you have to fit around the work and school schedules and think about the loadings we put on the players," she said.
"It is a juggle but that's the way it is. The girls are used to that, they've adapted to that and we work with it.
"It is a semi-professional environment . . . and as Clare and Em have said, it is a part of their life and they wouldn't want it any different."
The Roar versus Melbourne City match on Monday – which is the Roar's 100th W-League game – will be televised LIVE on both Fox Sports Ch 505 and ABC TV.
The other semi-final will see second-placed Canberra United host third-placed Sydney FC at Belconnen’s McKellar Park on Sunday, 24 January.
The two winners will meet in the Westfield W-League Grand Final on Sunday, 31 January.