Juggling Work: Interview with Thea Slatyer and Leena Khamis

We’re impressed by the Westfield Matildas on the pitch, but rarely see them when they’re not training or playing

Written by Westfield Matilda Sally Shipard

We-re impressed by the Westfield Matildas on the pitch, but rarely see them when they-re not training or playing. Girls FC-s Sally Shipard caught up with two incredible players, Thea Slatyer and Leena Khamis, to hear about their off-pitch pursuits and find out how they fit everything in to their busy days …

Where do you work?

TS: Rope access technician. I work around Sydney, scaling buildings ranging from townhouses to 45 storeys to the Opera House. We do maintenance, testing, repairs, anchor-bolt installations, remedial repairs, inspections, rigging, etc. I also work casually as the first female horse-mounted security officer in the southern hemisphere for the Australian Jockey Club and Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Program in Randwick, Sydney.

LK: I work at Insport, a Sydney-based sports store.

How long have you worked there?

TS: I have worked in abseiling for three years and horseback for about one.

LK: This is my ninth year working. Since 2003.

While living in Sydney, is it hard getting from work to football? You must have to pack your bag of a morning for the entire day!

TS: Yes. Sometimes I leave home at 5.30am-6.00am and don't return until 11.00pm. When I was playing in Newcastle I would work for eights hours then drive to Newcastle, train, then drive home and get into bed around midnight. Then get up the next morning and do it again.

LK: We train pretty much every night of the week. When I get up to go to work, I have to pack my football bag as well. I will always drive to training straight from work. Each trip usually takes between 30-45mins. I spend a lot of money on tolls and a lot of time in traffic. My younger sister is also in NSWIS and I take her home each night to my parents place, adding an extra 15-20 minutes. I usually get home between 10.00pm and 11.00 pm each night and wake up the next morning to do it again.

What kind of responsibilities do you have within your workplace? Your role?

TS: I am a Level 2 Rope Access Technician, so most of the time I am supervising the Level 1 technicians. For most major jobs I have to do the rigging, so can't make any mistakes as people-s lives are at risk.

LK: I-m 2IC at my work. When my manager isn-t there, I run the store and look after all the staff members.

How do you balance all your commitments?

TS: I balance my commitments with a lot of hard work and patience.

LK: I-ve been doing the same routine for the last 7-8 years, so I guess I-m used to it all. I work because I have to support myself as I live out of home and I have my own expenses. I chose this lifestyle because I love playing and I wouldn-t give it up for anything. It-s just become a routine for me.

What do you enjoy most about it?

TS: I enjoy the sights I get to see working at height. They are truly breathtaking [Girls FC believes Thea, but are kind of afraid of heights so will have to take her word for it :) We recommend you to check out the photos below].

LK: I enjoy all the friendships I-ve made through working at Insport. It-s a pretty laidback and easy job. I have a very good relationship with my boss, who is very helpful when I need time off for training/camps/tours, etc.

What don-t you like?

TS: I don't like early mornings in winter :(

LK: I don-t like getting up the next day after getting home from training late the night before.

Is this a career you-d pursue post-football?

TS: I definitely do this work to support my football career. Before this I worked in security and hospitality, which included late nights, which doesn't mix with training. I find it challenging and enjoyable. It is hard, physical work, but it is rewarding.

LK: I-ve been at this job for so long as they support me while playing soccer. Their flexibility makes for a comfortable workplace. Post-football, I-ll probably look for a different challenge somewhere else. Not retail! [Laughs]

If you could be any occupation in the world, what would you be?

TS: Professional dancer.

LK: I haven-t really pinpointed something I want to do away from football. I-ve always aspired to be in the feds (federal police) or a fire fighter. But maybe I-m not fit enough to be a fire fighter [Laughs].

Thanks ladies! Good luck with team selection, and your game against New Zealand!