When I think back to when my romance with football began, I'm not sure that there is an exact moment I can pinpoint. My exposure to it came at an early age, when I would tag along with my dad to watch my brother, Ivan, train while he was with the Australian Institute of Sport.
I remember watching them play and loving the way they moved the ball around. It fascinated me. Even at a young age, I loved the fiercely competitive nature and the idea that winning meant everything.
I was six years old when the Olyroos took on Netherlands to qualify for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. On the morning of the match, I remember being woken up at an ungodly hour to some seriously raucous shouts and screams.
My other brother, Ned, had just scored the second goal which would see them qualify. I stumbled in all bleary-eyed to find our little rumpus room filled with so much energy and emotion. I’ll never forget it.
After that night, nothing would ever be the same again; not for Ned, or our family. I still remember waiting for him at the airport to come home from that fateful qualifier. As he walked down the escalators towards the waiting media, he was the nation’s hero.
To me, he would always be my big brother.
Fast-forward to more recent times, and coupled with the environment that I grew up in and my passion for writing, it seemed only natural that I would pursue studying journalism and sports business.
Working on various football podcasts and radio shows also gave me the opportunity to channel my love for the round ball game and discuss it with fans that were equally as passionate.
And now, with my appointment at SBS, I think it’s fair to say that all of my dreams have finally come true. To be able to share my enthusiasm for football with the Australian public is something I am so excited about.
Second to that, working alongside some of the country's most seasoned professionals, both on and off the pitch, is a huge honour and a moment in time I am still waiting to be woken up from.
The thrilling news that SBS will be sharing Friday night football live with our audience is also a big step in the right direction for A-League fans and for us as a broadcaster. There are so many things to look forward to with the looming 2013/2014 A-League season and the FIFA World Cup in Brazil next year.
Yesterday, when my appointment at SBS was announced online and on social media, more than a few comments focused on comparisons between myself, Mel McLaughlin, and the newest addition to the Fox Sports family, Tara Rushton.
Some say I’ll never compare, others are sceptical about my football credibility, but I am more proud to say that on a whole, people are also pleased to see another woman in football.
The uphill battle women broadcasters in sport have faced over the past decade has improved, but I’d be hard-pressed to say that it’s ever going to change completely. We’re aware of this.
My quest into the world of football journalism has also been labelled as brave by some, and that’s puzzling to me. I have lived and breathed football for 26 years.
After being embedded in a childhood that was so rich with culture and such an appreciation of the beautiful game, I am forever grateful that it found a place in my heart.
I fell in love with a sport that has become the very thing I enjoy the most, even if none of it involves putting a boot to a ball. My decision isn’t brave; it’s called chasing your dreams.
Further to that, I have always had a huge amount of respect for Mel McLaughlin, who has achieved so much success in the A-League and, more broadly, for women in sports broadcasting Down Under. She has almost single-handedly changed the pre-historic perceptions of the sports reporting era that claimed women knew nothing about football. She showed them.
Similarly, Tara Rushton brings a wealth of experience to the coverage of the beautiful game, and she more than held her own on Singapore football show Tiger Goals on Sunday.
To these inspirational women, I want to say thank you. Thank you for paving the way for other like-minded, football fanatics like myself. We are a cause to be celebrated because in the face of criticism and intense judgement, we’ve decided to let our knowledge and zeal for the game, do the talking.
So in signing off, I want you to know that
The latter is what has united us all; men, women, people of any colour or race. And in the beautiful world of football, there is room for us all.