Emmi-Lee Close - the Set Backs & the Success
"Just set little small goals along the way. And whether that be getting back to running a few days earlier than expected or feeling good after rehab and not sore. And to always remember to be kind to yourself and be proud of where you are because injuries can be really hard on your mental health. It’s also so much easier when you have a strong base of people supporting you."
Football is full of ups and downs, and nobody knows that better than Queensland product, Emmi-Lee Close.
Emmi-Lee has had a shocking run of injuries, which is why, despite 2020 marking her fourth year of playing, she is still yet to play her 50th game of club football.
However, on the contrary, what she has managed to achieve when she is fully fit has been nothing short of amazing.
Like most players that we have featured, Emmi-Lee’s football career has a humble origin, although it may have begun much earlier if she had an been given the opportunity.
“My parents are from Victoria and dad played as a kid. Both my brothers played, and I always wanted to play but with the super limited options with there being no girls teams around and I was happy to play netball at the time.”
“And then my school team needed girl players and I signed up and never looked back from there. I always wanted to play was just waiting for an opportunity really.”
And she certainly didn’t look back, as a matter of fact her career took off rather quickly.
“I started my footy journey playing for a school AFL 9s team where I then got invited to trial for the U14 Gold Coast Sunsets team as a rookie. It was pretty daunting that the first time playing full field and proper AFL was at state championships, but I really enjoyed it.”
“I then went on the play club the following year (2016), however I did my ACL in that first club game, so I was ruled out for the year. I ended up getting clearance in five and half months and played for Southport Sharks U17 girls’ team the following year which lead to representative teams. I class this as my first year of footy.”
“In 2018 I went on the play QWAFL for Bond Uni where I unfortunately ended up missing the end half of the season due to a stress fracture and regular fracture in my right leg. Mainly as a result of being over worked as I had school sporting commitments, Queensland represented footy and club footy to try and manage. I was lucky enough to get fit enough (just) to play my last U17 Sunsets carnival.” “Last year I played for Bond Uni but really didn’t get the opportunity to be present at club footy due to Queensland commitments. This year I have decided to move to Yeronga, as it is a little closer to home and I wanted to fresh start.”
It seemed as if whenever she managed to get on a roll, something would always happen, and she would then have to go through rehab in order to return to the game she loved. Only to get injured again not long after her return and having to repeat the process.
However, suffering two major injuries so close together, 2016 and 2018, and still being able to work through it and bounce back, shows a massive level of strength and resilience on Emmi-Lee’s behalf.
But not only did she remain positive throughout her rehabilitation, she also managed to go one further and actually research her injuries in order to develop a better understanding of what had happened and what should be done.
“Well I would always do heaps so self-research about the injuries and the general rehab and I would find rehab programs of that injury and I was always way ahead of the recommended time frame.”
“That really motivated me to always have multiple rehab programs and have heaps so understanding myself so I could work with my physios to get back to playing and training as quick as I could.”
“Also, I really appreciated being able to do any sort of training whether that was just straight line running.”
The fact that she remained positive and actually went out of her way to better improve her recovery time, shows how passionate of not just a player but also a person that Emmi-Lee is.
However, as we mentioned earlier, football has its downs but also its highs, and as for Emmi-Lee, well injuries are certainly not the only thing she has gotten during her football career.
As a matter of fact, her level of achievements is rather remarkable considering how much football she has missed due to injury over the past four years.
Her accolades stretch back to her first year of football in 2016, when she made the U14s Gold Coast Sunsets team.
However, the following year in 2017, she managed to achieve more in a year than what most would dream of.
And this is because 2017 saw her Captain the Southport Sharks U17s, as well as make the South Coast U16s team and finish third in the league’s Best and Fairest.
But that is still not all, as 2017 also so her make the Gold Coast Sunsets team again, and this time she finished runner-up to the Best and Fairest. She also made the Gold Coast Suns Academy, which she still currently holds a spot in today.
As impressive as this all is, the following two years are arguably the best indication of what she is capable of achieving when she is fully match fit.
And this is because, in 2018, she not only made the Queensland state U18s team but also the Gold Coast Sunsets team again, where she would not only be the Vice-Captain of the side, but she would also go on to receive the Coaches Award and finish runner-up to the Best and Fairest.
If that wasn’t enough, 2018 also saw her claim the Pierre De Coubertin Award.
Then in 2019, she played once again in the Queensland state U18s team and was also Queensland’s Vice-Captain.
And as for team success, well “the Sunsets team won state champs in 2017 and 2018”.
Now we have said this once, and we will say it again, what Emmi-Lee has managed to achieve despite suffering several major setbacks is nothing short of amazing.
However, despite this overwhelming amount of success, her favourite memories are quite simple and rather wholesome.
One would “probably being named Vice-Captain for Queensland. Was such a great accomplishment.”
“It is seriously such an honour to represent your state. Knowing that your hard work has paid off and you get to come up against different states that have different game plan styles is just awesome.”
“It is also unreal to have played with and against players that are now drafted and playing AFLW.” “And another favourite footy moment that is not related to me would have to be when my cousin Eden Zanker got picked up by the Dees.”
However, through all of this, the success and the setbacks, the one thing that stays the same is her outstanding passion and just general love of the game.
“I love that footy is like a big family and everyone is welcoming. I used to play netball and found it could be very nasty and often felt like I didn’t fit in but footy is just so inclusive or everyone.”
“If you’re having a bad game or training session your team mates never fail to pick you back up and that’s probably the best feeling is the support from everyone. Also, just how supportive and caring all the coaches always are too.”
So, with an outstanding career already, what is next for this promising Queensland product?
"I definitely wanna get on an AFLW list! Missed out last year but I’ve been lucky enough to be invited back as an overager and go through the U18 pathway again! Which is gonna give me the best opportunity to get picked up."
Which she can be, in all honestly a serious AFLW prospect, if she can remain match fit.
And that is because she has already proven that she has the skills, the passion and the leadership, all the things that make a great AFLW player.
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