Pitch perfect Pitch perfect

Football superstars Courtney Nevin, Mackenzie Arnold and Kyra Cooney-Cross on how they stay match ready – and what to expect from the Matildas at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.


Courtney Nevin

Courtney Nevin
Position: Defender
Teams: Matildas, Leicester City

Football has always been a special part of my life. I remember being five years old [and] playing for Oakville Ravens. I have great memories of going down to Colbee Park, my local, on the weekend with Dad and Mum and having so much fun playing with the boys.

I love the game for many reasons. It’s taught me so much in so many ways. Playing is my outlet and escape from the world. I have fun, and I’m constantly being challenged and learning. The best part is playing with so many amazing women and meeting new people. It’s so rewarding.

Sport is so important for people of all ages – either as a player or a volunteer. It’s great for everyone to keep healthy and moving, and it’s a nice way to get out while enjoying exercise. Sport creates community and brings people into your life you may never have known if not for your involvement.

I’m really privileged to be able to make the sport I love my full-time job, and I take it very seriously. To stay fit and healthy, I train at least five times a week on the pitch to work on the football and fitness side. Off the pitch, I also do three gym sessions a week. With this much activity, I take particular care with ensuring balanced healthy eating to keep me fuelled throughout the week.

[For the World Cup,] I’m training hard everyday and keeping my body healthy. It’s crucial for me to be in the best shape and form, so I’ve been playing in one of the best leagues in the world, the English Women’s Super League [for Leicester City]. Here, I get to play some of the best players on the planet, which is great for my development and preparation for the World Cup.

It probably sounds a bit unusual, but before a match I try not to focus too much on it at the start of the day. Being able to relax earlier means that, when it gets closer to kick-off, I can get into my routine to be ready for the match. I’ll prepare by listening to music and visualising my role on the pitch to get me in the zone.


Courtney says: [Self-improvement is] all about being aware of your goals, and good habits are key to a healthy lifestyle. If you’re able to make better choices and make it a habit, it will help maintain your health.


Mackenzie Arnold

Mackenzie Arnold
Position: Goalkeeper
Teams: Matildas, West Ham United

Sport is not only about the physical. While that’s important, just as vital is that it gives people a lifestyle – happiness, social skills and a feeling of being a part of a group.

My first [football] memory is from under sevens and joining my first team as a right back with the boys at Burleigh Bulldogs. It was a great time, and I really loved it. I don’t believe anything compares to the feeling of succeeding with a group of your best mates. They make every part of the journey worth it, and you build lifelong memories together.

To be at your best, football is about mental and physical preparation. I’ve been training and playing with my current club, West Ham United, based in London, and working with our psychologist on the mental side of the game.

[Part of this is making sure] I’m not too serious before a game. I’ll listen to any kind of music on the way, nothing too extreme! In the changing room, I like to just have a laugh with my friends. When I head out for warm-up is when I tick over to game mode.

I also do multiple training and gym sessions, but recovery and nutrition are just as important. I get recovery massages after most games and sometimes during the week. I like to keep a balance with my nutrition to make sure I’m getting in the right nutrients, but also enjoying what I’m eating.

Nutrition is a huge area of interest for me. I first got into it during my time in America, when I wasn’t playing as much and found my fitness slipping. I worked out how to balance a healthy lifestyle that includes ways to improve energy levels and recovery through diet, rather than just concentrating on the training aspect on the field.

[Expect] a lot of fight and entertainment [from us at the World Cup]! We’ll do everything we can to succeed and bring the fans along on that ride. We’ve always played to inspire the next generation, and I think the World Cup is a perfect opportunity. I love seeing the faces of little kids who see you as so much more than you see yourself. They remind you that what you’re doing is bigger than the game. It shows how special football is.


Mackenzie says: My top tip for maintaining correct nutrition is to always enjoy what you’re eating. It’s vital to look into what helps you reach your goals rather than following different diets online and trying to copy what other people are doing.


Kyra Cooney-Cross

Kyra Cooney-Cross
Position: Midfielder
Teams: Matildas, Hammarby Fotboll

It started with playing football in Alice Springs when I was quite young, with a boys’ team, for three years. I just remember loving the ball at my feet.

Sport is much more than what happens on the pitch. It’s about finding somewhere you belong and feel really at home. I love that sport allows you to discover new parts of your personality that you may not have known about – and it also helps you build qualities that help you in everyday life. Football has also opened up the world to me. I have been able to travel to places I never even thought to visit, and I get to do it with some really interesting people.

[World Cup] fans can expect us to leave everything on the park. We’re always proud to represent our family, friends and Australia. Because of that, we will always fight ’til the end and give everything for this crest.

[To get ready,] I’m currently playing for Swedish club Hammarby Fotboll. My preparation is about getting regular game-time in a quality league, where I am surrounded by some fantastic footballers.

Having the right mindset is also an important part of the game for me. I get in the zone by listening to music on the way to the game to take my mind off things and relax. As kick-off comes closer, I start thinking about what I need to do in the game and imagining positive visualisations of the match.

As well as matches, staying fit and healthy is about making sure I recover well, as in my role I can cover a lot of ground. Backing up match after match means I need to make sure that my body also gets the rest that it needs. During the week it is also about eating well so that my body has the right fuel for the weekend.

Football, for me, is about the fun of the game. I love playing with my teammates and the way you can create and build new friendships because of this game that we love and share together.


Kyra says: Sometimes people forget that hydration is just as important as the food to fuel your body. Eating the right food to help keep your energy up for the work that you do is also important. [Focus on] what is good for your body and what you like to eat to make it easier.


Originally published in The Costco Connection, Jul/Aug 2023. Pick up the latest copy at your local warehouse or read it online.