Heyman’s mission to help athletes with their biggest ever challenge
There comes a time in every athlete’s life where they have to call time on their career. Like that, everything changes.
No longer are they told what to do, what to wear, where to be and when to sleep every day.
No longer are they surrounded by best friends and teammates as they travel the world living the dream sparked as a young kid.
WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH HEYMAN IN THE VIDEO ABOVE
Transitioning into retired life is often the biggest struggle athletes can deal with, but Westfield Matildas star Michelle Heyman is embarking on a new project to help footballers overcome those hurdles.
Heyman, a 60-time Westfield Matilda and still a regular feature of Alen Stajcic’s squad, is now shifting her attention off the park to helping others when they decide to call it a day.
“I just started with a company called ‘With You, With Me’,” Heyman told matildas.footballaustralia.com.au.
“It’s a recruitment company trying to help athletes transition – that’s our number one focus at the moment.”
Heyman, who is currently playing in the NSW Women’s National Premier League with Northern Tigers in the Westfield W-League off-season, is nursing niggling injuries that hindered her for Canberra United and the national team in recent years.
So with more time on her hands, she’s using it to spread the word to others.
She added: “We’re also going to try and help W-League players, the younger players and Young Matildas get an education while still playing.
“It’s something new and exciting and hopefully when they retire they’re ready for the job force.
“We’re trying to stop the pressure on us athletes to be good at everything, especially to train and work and study to have a career outside of football. With this, it will be easier to train and maybe do a couple of hours a day of study and by the end of it you’ll be the best employee in any company.”
With athletes spending so much of their focus on being physically and mentally prepared for the next opponent on the field, Heyman and ‘With You, With Me’ will be working to help them better spend time to face the challenges away from football.
After all, few people can bring with them the life experiences of a footballer into the workforce.
“We’re resilient, we’re hard working, you give us a task and we’re definitely going to be the best person to do it because we want to win and we want to do well,” Heyman explained when asked what former athletes can offer.
“We bring a lot to big companies as well so we’re trying to look at it. Companies sometimes want someone with five years of experience, but if you can have an athlete with all these skills and talents and train them well, they’re going to be the best person for the job.”
Heyman returned to the Westfield W-League with Canberra United last season after missing nearly nine months with snapped ankle ligaments, a broken big toe and bone fracture suffered in December 2016.
But with the ankle now cleared up, the 29-year-old is now nursing a knee injury suffered during March’s AFC Asian Cup in Jordan.
With some high profile Westfield Matildas fixtures looming, and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup next June in France, a big year will be required for the striker to get back to her best physically.
“I’m 50-50,” Heyman said.
“My ankle is feeling really good, the knee is a little bit sore – I hurt that while I was in Jordan. For me, it’s about completely focusing on rehabbing and fixing all these little niggles.
“On the plus side it’s kind of nice – I’m enjoying it and I’ve started playing for Northern Tigers in [the NSW Women’s National Premier League] to keep up my fitness and have some fun with a new group of girls.
“My goal is to get to France. Anything in between that, I’m going to try as hard as I can but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I just want to get my rehab right so I’m ready for France.”