Matildas striker, Michelle Heyman, returns home to the Illawarra Stingrays and to gather strength before heading off to Rio to chase Australia's first football medal. She writes exclusively for SBS Zela.
By
Michelle Heyman

29 Apr 2016 - 11:30 AM  UPDATED 29 Apr 2016 - 11:43 AM

I haven’t lived here in over 10 years and yet everything about this place is still home for me.

Where I go for coffee, the gym, the hairdressers, the florist - the locals. All of them with big smiles on their face to welcome me home. I’m catching up with old friends, spending time with the family and almost feeling like a kid again. The best part of all this - I finally get my beach back!

The decision to play back at home, is definitely one I’m happy with. My football career began here years ago and I’ve been lucky enough to experience the world as a result. To come back home, be around familiar faces and be a role model for the younger players excites me. I come back to the local field with a world of experience and knowledge that I’m very proud of.

By being home, I’ve been able to leverage my football career with other aspects that I’m passionate about. I’ve recently launched my label MH23 which includes genderless apparel, coaching clinics and public speaking opportunities about topics that are close to my heart. The support of this different side of me has been amazing and I’m so grateful for the belief that people have in me.

Through MH23 coaching clinics, I have an incredible opportunity to work with younger, aspiring players. A chance to teach skills, drills and techniques that I have picked up along the way. But, it’s not only football skills I want to teach them, I have a chance to teach about life skills - about following through with your dreams, working ridiculously hard, sacrificing many things you love and dedicating yourself to achieve everything that you set out to. With this determination and resilience, I know that we can do anything we put our mind to.

Now it hasn’t just been fun and games on and off the field. I’ve set my sights on Rio, and after qualifying earlier this year, the excitement is starting to take new highs. The training, the focus and the determination to represent my country has been taking most of my time. And with less than 100 days to go - it feels great to have my friends, family and supporters all cheering me on for my Olympic dream.

Michelle Heyman: The smiling assassin