Curling balls around pot plants

Sally Shipard grills Perth Glory rising star Ella Mastrantonio, 21, about her life and goals in the beautiful game.

Westfield Matilda and Canberra United midfielder Sally Shipard grills Perth Glory star Ella Mastrantonio, 21, about her life in the beautiful game.

SS: When did you first begin playing football?
EM: I began when I was 5 years old. I wanted to do what my brother was doing, so I joined in with his team who were two years older than me. Both my dad and brother were massive influences.

SS: You are a very technical and intelligent player. Did you practice anything specific to gain strength in these areas?
EM: Dad used to teach me how to curl balls around pot plants in the back yard when I was young (laughs) and I also used to juggle a lot. I think I get my “football brain” from watching and taking close note of how the best players in the world play for countless hours and years.

SS: You mentioned juggling, what do you like about it, do you count?
EM: I used to count when I was younger, but now I focus on the touch more than quantity of juggles. I juggle with a flat surface with my feet so the ball doesn’t spin, so it develops and improves my touch.

SS: Which teammate/coach has inspired you the most?
EM: I’d have to say my time with the senior Matildas, mainly Collette McCallum – she is so technically gifted it-s unbelievable. Her football intelligence is so advanced; I admire her greatly and have learnt a lot from playing with her. Coaching wise, Alistair Edwards; his philosophy and style of play is definitely my favourite, he is such a great mentor as well as a great coach and person.

SS: You-ve been involved in the Westfield W-League since day dot. How do you think the quality has improved?
EM: The quality has definitely improved. Every year the competition gets fiercer and more technical, and with the addition of top quality overseas players it definitely improves the intensity and quality of the league.

SS: Do you have any desire to play overseas?
EM: Yes I do, I have a fascination with England so I would love to play there.

SS: Juggling work, education and football is most important as athletes; what do you do away from the pitch?
EM: I did school/TAFE/uni /work up until 2012 and if it wasn’t for my parents support I wouldn’t be where I am today.

SS: What advice would you give to young footballers aspiring to play in the Westfield W-League?
EM: Watch as much football as you can. Closely observe and learn off the best players in the world. Don’t go through the motions in training, train how you want to play. Be smart and be careful you don’t burn yourself out.

SS: In regards to goal setting, how do you set yours? Do you physically write them down somewhere, Share them with close friends, family…
EM: I keep telling myself in my head what I want to do. Psychologically I am not the strongest, so I keep telling myself to keep at it. I-ve persevered and my mind is gaining strength. I am realising more as I grow, it is important to have a strong mind, as well as a strong body.

SS: Injuries are inevitable, as athletes, we-ve all had them. How do you react to set-backs?
EM: Whenever I have to miss football I hate it, I just love football. After the season-s end when you are forced to have a break, I can’t stand it. I-d recommend sticking to your rehab plan, keep yourself motivated so that you can return ASAP and come back better and stronger than ever.

SS: And finally, for you the best thing about…
EM: Chasing leather is the pure love and enjoyment I have for the game. It is my life and a huge part of me and there is no bigger satisfaction than playing well and winning.