It’s International Nurses Day today and it’s a great opportunity to acknowledge the sacrifices, efforts and contributions made by our healthcare heroes around the world. For many, football is life, however Casey Dumont and Linda O’Neill, who both have played in the Westfield W-League, see it as their release.
The duo are both nurses full-time as O’Neill played 74 games collectively for Sydney FC, Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers FC, leaving football to focus on her nursing career in 2016.
Dumont has over 100 appearances in the Westfield W-League, representing Brisbane Roar FC, Sydney FC, Western Sydney Wanderers FC and Melbourne Victory. She is currently focused on juggling nursing with her football.
Both players are friends outside of football and enjoyed being roommates when they were in the Young Matildas. O’Neill currently resides in Jervis Bay, New South Wales and works at a rural hospital in Milton.
“I wanted to do something for everyone. So I got into nursing, I wanted to help people,” O’Neill told the APL.
“I’ve just changed jobs. For the last seven years, I was working at a really intense surgical ward and it was a step down from ICU, so we were looking after a lot of patients who had big surgeries and required a lot of care.
“Two months ago I left and I now have a job in Milton, so I’m still getting used to it.. It has a lot to do with geriatrics, but we get a few sick patients we have to stabilise and then go to hospitals.
“Some of the stuff we do, we just get on with the day. It’s a big thing for other people, but we just have to kick on. In a way, it is a job where it’s very rewarding. Some of the stuff we get to do, sometimes they’re the lowest points in their life and we get to be there for them.”
O’Neill has not played football since she left the Westfield W-League in 2016 because she wanted to focus her energy on nursing.
However she continues to follow what some of her former teammates are doing at club and international level. Dumont continues to juggle her football commitments with her full-time job in healthcare as a registered nurse.
“I don’t think you can put it into words how rewarding this job is as it your duty to help others and take care of people,” Dumont told the APL.
“It’s been amazing to helping people get out of a terrible situation health wise and be back to normal again.
“It also helps yourself mentally become stronger because you have to be that strong person for family’s who are struggling from a bad time in their lives. You are truly the extra hand/shoulder/hug/voice for someone or to give help.
“In all honesty it’s extremely hard to work nursing around sport. I had to leave a lot of jobs to follow a career in football and visa-versa.
“It is also hard with shift work to be able to produce quality on the football pitch as well as on nursing shift too.
“I will admit though, I have had some amazing bosses who have helped me be able to do nursing and football. I have so much respect and gratitude towards them as I wouldn’t have been able to experience what I have in football and nursing to this day.
“Every opportunity I have had is from juggling nursing and football as new doors have opened when had to put hold on nursing or hold on football.”
Dumont also added there were multiple challenges in nursing and spoke about the energy it took to be confronted with adversity while also trying to play football.
“The biggest challenge is becoming very connected with patients and the outcome not good or you know how big of a journey it is ahead of them and have to tell them this,” she said.
“It also hard coming home after having a horrible shift, that nothing went right and trying to switch off.”
O’Neill’s message is simple - don’t take life for granted.
“In 2020, things were tough for everyone, there were some situations where we were waiting for people to come back with their results, they couldn’t be with their loved ones and it was very hard to be that messenger, it was really hard,” O’Neill added.
“There were some situations last year where I felt for the countries overseas, it was rough and very hard, I don’t know how to explain it.
“In a way I treated football as a release, nursing is a physical and quite an emotional job, so football was a good outlet. You’d work all day then have the game day.
“I find nursing a huge reality check every day, because we see a lot of things which makes you realise life isn’t that bad. There’s a lot of other things going on… it could be worse.”