Today marks a new chapter for goalkeeper Tessa Nicol.
Only months after she represented New Zealand at the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, the 21-year-old is starting a new role as the Southern Football Women’s Development Officer.
A little overwhelmed and very excited about stepping into the leadership role back in her home town, Nicol is pleased to be in a position where she can continue to develop in football while also giving back to her federation.
“When I came back home my main goal was to work in with Football South as much as I possible could. It was really important that I was working with them because I wanted to give back to all the people who put in so much time with me over the years,” she said.
“When the WDO position came up I thought it sounded like the perfect role. I didn’t know if I had the right requirements to go in and do the job but I decided to sign up and see what happened.
“It’s really overwhelming, really exciting, and it’s the best opportunity for me to give back. I’m looking forward to it.”
Only a few hours into the job, Nicol has already mapped out her plan for the next year; getting on the ground to make connections and create opportunities.
“My main focus for this year in particular is to get out, in amongst the clubs, in amongst schools and really try to help kids out and give them the opportunity that I’ve been given,” she said.
“I want to spark their passion and their love for the game and get kids really involved in football.”
Although Nicol isn’t expecting an easy ride, she’s confident in achieving her objectives with a region of avid footballers backing her along the way.
“We don’t have the same amount of numbers as some other federations but the kids and the women and the men that are involved down here have a lot of passion and a lot of love for the game. I think that that element alone is pretty crucial to the way the federations run,” she said.
“There’s a lot of passionate people down here that do a lot for football and I’m really excited to get involved with that and pass that love on to somebody that maybe hasn’t quite discovered it yet. It’s pretty cool to be involved in a different side of things.”
Despite her age, Nicol hopes to offer experience to Football South, and after moving to Auckland last year to join the U-20 training squad before travelling to Papua New Guinea for the U-20 Women’s World Cup, she has more than enough experience to make an impact.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience. There’s nothing greater than stepping out on to a pitch and knowing that you’re representing your country, and that New Zealand’s behind you, and singing that national anthem,” she said.
“Being involved in the Auckland environment was such a fantastic experience. The intensity up there was phenomenal and it really was an amazing experience that I’m really grateful to have had.
“All I want to do now is pass on that knowledge to people that want to learn and people that want to excel.”
Nicol – who promises she has no plans to retire her gloves – knows the desk job will be a new experience for her, but one where she hopes to be able to inspire the next Tessa Nicol.
“I’ve still got aspirations as a player to potentially go overseas one day or really try to push in to that national squad but at the moment, this is a foot in the door for me and I’m just really humbled and excited to be here and to have this opportunity at the age that I am,” she said.
“There’s opportunities and experiences that will come up in your life and when you get those experiences, it’s so important that you go 120 per cent the whole time and that you don’t let anybody stop you.”
“Even if you come from little old Dunedin, you can actually make it.”