By Melissa Marsh
As the big 40 fast approaches some would question themselves over an evening run or walk, perhaps a boxing session or some time at the local gym but it’s certainly not the case for East Fremantle’s veteran Julie Nichols.
After seven years playing the game she is so passionate about, Julie has overcome a major injury to pursuit her passion of playing football for the Mighty Sharks.
Not shy of showing her sporting talents, she also spent four years playing county cricket for the Derbyshire County in the UK, but it’s fair to say that Julie’s passion lies in football.
Julie’s career started as a youngster back in 2002 for the Melville Dockers. She spent her youth tagging along with her older brother to his junior football training in which Julie’s dad also coached. “Luckily for me my dad didn’t mind me being there and let me participate in some skills sessions. He even let me play for about 5 minutes in a lightning carnival once,” the 39 year-old said.
After many years of being involved with the Melville Dockers is was in 2008 that they became East Fremantle Sharks and Julie decided to focus on her career with football.
In her first game back, devastation hit during the last five minutes of the game when she experienced a heavy collision. “I knew it was bad, but like anyone involved in sport and does an injury, you try to convince yourself it’s not as bad”
Scans later revealed that Julie had torn her ACL in her knee and would miss at least 12 months of football. In a short turn around, she was then operated on three weeks later but well aware of long rehabilitation process ahead.
Of the limited resources available in women’s sport, Julie was confident that her physiotherapist would be able to assist in her rehab but most of all it was her will, passion and discipline that got her over the line and back to playing football.
“To go from being very active and a fit person to not even being able to do the most basic movement with my leg was pretty hard to take. For me it was a big mental challenge at that stage and I had to force myself to sit on the bed and go through my exercises so religiously, even when I was tired and couldn’t be bothered. I never missed a set,” she said.
For this outstanding athlete it was the view of the bigger picture that got her through this major setback.
As most would agree it might have been easier to hang up the boots but instead Julie showed great adversity.
“For me, football is a sport that has it all, not only do you need skill and athleticism, you need to be courageous, dedicated to the contest and willing to put your body on the line for your team mate. “
“It’s a bond that sticks with you for life.”