Elise Kellond–Knight: My journey in football

FEATURE PHOTOGRAPH: Thewomensgame at English Wikipedia / Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International

You signed for Kristianstads in Sweden in 2020. How are you enjoying your time at the club so far and how would you describe a club such as Kristianstads?

 

There is a bit of a story behind it. I played in Sweden two years ago at Hammarby and I really enjoyed my time in Sweden. I thought the culture and the people were quite similar to Australia and it was unexpected that I would come to Sweden that year. It was kind of a filler year while I was transitioning from Europe to the United States and I needed a short term contract and if I had not already had plans to go to the United States I would have stayed for another year.

I ended up ending my contract at Brisbane Roar at the start of this year and I was looking for a team to get some games before the Olympics and Kristianstads put their hand up because they remembered me from the season that I played two year previously at Hammarby and they liked me as a player. I was originally only going to come over until July pre Olympics and then COVID hit and the Olympics were canceled and I was in Europe so I agreed to play the full season here until November and then unfortunately in the second game of the season I ruptured my ACL so I am five weeks post operation and I am looking at not playing football for another eight months. ACL is never an easy injury to come back from probably one of hardest injuries and I would say it is up there with a broken leg being such a long term injury but these things happen in football.

Moving to Europe I have encountered so many changes and unpredictable things that have been happening because of COVID for example our training environment is always changing and not knowing when we will play in the Swedish League the season was originally due to start in April and that got pushed back to June with no set date. They were taking a two week at a time decision and it was delay after delay after delay and as a player in a professional environment it is pretty hard and almost impossible to plan given the circumstances but it is what it is.

 

You played three seasons for FFC Turbine Potsdam. How do you look back on your time in Germany and do you have any particular highlights or memories?

 

Yes, My time at Turbine Potsdam was special. It was probably the start of what I would consider a full time professional career before that prior to 2015 I thought that the women’s game was at a semi-professional level, players were still working and studying and trying to piece their lives together. I feel that after the 2015 World Cup that I personally took the step to just really direct my life as a full time professional and Germany gave me that opportunity and I really enjoyed my three years there. I found it extremely challenging.

There is a large culture difference between Germany and Australia which was a very hard barrier to overcome. I learned German as best as I could I went to school five days a week and I tried to immerse myself in the culture and and Germans have a very hard working, determined mindset which taught me a lot of resilience.

 

You have been capped over 100 times by your country of Australia. How do you look back on playing international football and do you have any special highlights and memories?

 

Yes, It has been a long international career that has spanned over 13 years now. There have just been so many adventures within those 13 years that it is hard to identify with key moments but I think it is more of a progression from those early years where it is very much semi-professional almost amateur level in the conditions that we were training and playing in and then being a part of this progression of 13 years had just been amazing to now see so many of the elite athletes playing in full time professional environments.

I am really proud to have been a part of that progress and my main memory is being a part of the progress in women’s football and I identify with that a lot because through those years of my career I have seen the majority of it from that amateur level to the full time professional environment of the current day. I think that is the best way to sum it up.

 

You have accrued a lot of experience in different countries and at international level, could you say who are among the best players you have played alongside so far in your career?

 

For me I get the most enjoyment playing with technical players and generally each team has a handful of really technical, clever, intelligent players. I do not typically enjoy playing with the fighting aggressive must win at all costs type of players. I played in Japan and there they have the typical player that I like to play with where they are really intelligent and have really good ball control and a good example would be when I played at Melbourne City we had a player in that team named Yukari Kinga who was one of my favourites.

She was always in the right position and two passes before you would get the ball she would know where it was going and she was just really intuitive, really easy to play with. She made the game simple but was so effective.

 

I can imagine in your position as a defensive midfielder/ defender that you have come up against some difficult opponents through the years, could you say which players have stood out for you in terms of talent and ability?

 

I have a certain level of respect for the Brazilian player Marta. I first came up against her at the World Cup in 2011 and for me at the time with me being a young player and her being so iconic because at that time women’s football was not well covered in the media and it was hard to even know who the good players were and at that time Marta was certainly the pinnacle of women’s football so coming up against such a player was a key moment in my career that I remember and I also have memories of playing against Lotta Schelin who is a Swedish player. I just thought she was so good around that time as well. She was so dynamic and athletic and could move so well with the ball and she was a hard player to play against.

 

Finally Elise, could you say in your career so far who are the coaches and managers who have meant a lot to you and played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?

 

Yes, I have had a wide variety of coaches from very harsh and sometimes uncaring to really nurturing and caring and I think the ones that I have related to are the caring and nurturing managers the most and there are two key managers in that respect. My first coach Stuart Hallen from my junior club at Runaway Bay Hawkes. He really nurtured me as a young player because I was in a male dominated environment and he realized that and he was super supportive. He kept me engaged with the sport and he could see that I really liked it but I kind of needed a little bit of help at that time because being around such a male dominated environment is tough as an eight year old.

It is a little bit isolating but he fully included me, pushed me and even made me captain of the team which kind of made me accepted straight away so he was key throughout my early years and then just recently having Ante Milicic come in and take control of The Matildas ( Australian Women’s national team ) for those 18 months was phenomenal. I just think he is such a great manager in how he organized and related to the team. He took the team to a new level in terms of professionalism. I have immense respect for him as all the players of The Matildas do.

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