Playing in a World Cup will be a dream come through for Aivi Luik and she is now a month away from gracing the biggest competition in women’s football. Having played in America and Europe, Luik brought back a wealth of experience to the Brisbane Roar women’s team and helped them to the 2010/11 Westfield W-League Championship. In an interview with Luik, the 26-year-old midfielder spoke about her journey to make her dream a reality.
This will be your first World Cup, how do you feel?
Luik: I am very excited at the thought of playing at the World Cup. It has been my dream since I was a kid.
How are your preparations for the World Cup?
Luik: They have been going well so far. I will be trying to get a little more game time and individual skills sessions in beforehand to make sure I am at the peak of my ability.
Why do you think the Westfield Matildas will make this World Cup something to remember for?
Luik: The team has never been as good as it is right now, both on the field and on the bench. There is so much depth in the squad and our starting eleven are looking very quick and very sharp. Combine that with our “never say die” attitude and you have a very difficult team to deal with.
Which are the teams to look out for and how you think the Westfield Matildas will fare in the group stages?
Luik: USA and Germany are definitely the top teams to look out for. They are strong, fast, and Germany is very ‘football smart’. I think we have a great chance at doing well in our group because I think we have the confidence and capability to beat all three teams in our group. Obviously each game will have its obstacles to overcome but I think it is definitely on the cards. I think our first game against Brazil will be our toughest but when it comes to the World Cup, it can be as unpredictable as it seems predictable so we’ll have to wait and see.
Tell us about your experience playing in the NCAA competition and in the Premier League with FC Indiana?
Luik: The NCAA competition and the whole college football experience was great, I loved it. It had that professional feeling about it and everyone playing in it had such a strong desire to climb the playoffs table and win it. The style of football was a lot more physical and direct.
I owe a lot of my tactical aspect of football to playing with FC Indiana. Under polish coach Shek Borkowski, (former professional) I learnt a lot about the game and got very fit with his twice -a-day no slacking sessions. The Premier League itself was again filled mostly with physical and direct teams. FC Indiana was made up of a lot of foreign players. It was much more technical and tactical.
Your dream is to play for the Westfield Matildas in the World Cup and you are almost there. How did you make this dream a reality?
Luik: When I finished high school I wanted to continue playing football competitively and options weren’t many in doing that since Australia didn’t have a national league at that time. I headed over to America to play in their college league in order to continue playing. When the Westfield W-League was introduced here, I ventured back to play in it. I was then invited to national team camps and became a member of the Westfield Matildas squad. Through all of this there has obviously been hard work and sacrifices also.
Is there anything else that you would like to achieve in football?
Luik: I would love to go to the Olympics.
You moved back to Australia because of football, how hard was it for you to make this decision considering your boyfriend lives in America?
Luik: It was never a decision to have to ponder over. Football was and is my number one priority. In saying that, the only reason why I didn’t have to choose one or the other is because my boyfriend, being a football player himself, had the same dream as I did which is to compete in the World Cup. He is 100% supportive of me following my dream and is one of my biggest supporters.
You seem to be travelling more than any other Matildas, tell us more about it?
Luik: That has been the case because of the unique way in which I became a member of the team. Most of the girls here have come up through their state academies and only travel when there are national team duties and during the W-league. In the last couple of years, girls including Colthorpe, Servet, Sarah, Collete, Heather, Katie and just recently Tameka, have signed contracts with foreign clubs and so they have travel a little with that also. For me I have done the same as these girls but I have also travelled back and forth to the states for college and club football and to visit my boyfriend so yes, I seem to be doing a lot of travelling.
You are known for scoring match winners, do you visualize scoring these goals before a match?
Luik: To be honest, I am not known for that these days. That was back in my youth (haha just kidding) but honestly, I have become more of a play-maker/defensive player. Scoring a goal is never far from my mind though and I love to score! I can’t wait to get my first international goal soon.
1) When I was young, I wanted to be a professional footballer.
2) My favourite goal I scored was when I blasted this shot first time from about 30 yards out with my left foot as the ball was running back towards me during college.
3) My favourite American Sport is Beer pong (joking). American sport…hmmm…I guess that’d have to be out of American Football, baseball, basketball and ice-hockey. From them I’d have to say American Football just because some of the hits are really hard. I really don’t like the 30 second breaks they have between play. It makes it very boring for me. I can’t sit down and watch the 2-3 hour game.
4) If I score a goal in the World Cup, I will probably sprint around the field and try to find where my family is sitting and then I’d remember it for the rest of my life.
5) I wish Westfield Matildas will play the best football we ever have and because of it, compete in the World Cup final.