A Day In The Life Of… Anna Flanagan

Ever wanted to step into somebody else’s shoes for the day and see what life is like as a magazine editor, a professional sportsperson or corporate high-flyer..? Well, SHESAID is giving you the closest thing to your very own Freaky Friday experience with our A Day In The Life Of… series.

RELATED: Inspirational Women: Ellyse Perry

Name and role

Anna Flanagan and I am a player for the Hockeyroos!

When did you discover your talent? Did you always want to be an athlete?

I wanted to be sportswomen from as soon as I could walk- meaning as long as I can remember! I picked up my first hockey stick at four and never looked back! I always wanted to represent Australia and go to the Olympics in something. I did tennis and athletics at national level until I was 15 and chose to give everything to hockey. I always loved the feeling of winning with a team and ultimately enjoyed the sport more. When I made my debut for Australia at age 18, I realised that just playing for Australia wasn’t the goal, but being the best was. Making the team [Hockeyroos] was only the beginning of a huge journey to the top.

Tell us a bit about your journey?

I was selected into the Australian squad when I was 17 and still at school. I came through the junior ranks with two national titles and Player of the Tournament in U18s/21s and in open Nationals before I was 20. My first foray into international hockey I was 16 playing for the U21 Australian team and therefore had to grow up pretty quickly. I moved over to Perth when I was 18 away from all my family and friends and had to learn to look after myself on the other side of the country, without knowing anyone well in the team. The first year I really struggled but had my studies to distract me from being so isolated. I was a late selection into the Commonwealth Games team in Delhi, and from this moment I new I wanted not only to win gold medals, but be the best in the world.

I worked really hard physically to earn my place as one of the main players in the team. I then at 20 years old, I was voted World Young Player of the year at the Olympic Games. This brought a lot more pressure to perform but none more than what I placed on myself. From back then, knowing no one the team is like my family now. We train together everyday and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Where do you find your inspiration? Who has had the most impact on you and your career?

My captain Madonna Blyth inspires me everyday at training to push harder and be the best you can. In other sports the females such as Jessica Fox, Caroline Buchanan and Anna Meares because they are pushing the boundaries of female sport and are good role models.

As an elite athlete, its not always bright lights and glory. How do you deal with the challenges and down times?

We train everyday so I definitely have those days or moments where I envy those with a ‘normal’ job. But I try putting it in perspective to realise not everyone can do what I am doing, and that the lifestyle is amazing and the feeling of winning with your team mates is the ultimate high.

A Day In The Life Of, Inspirational Women, life advice, talent, sportswomen, sport, fitness, Hockeyroo

Your workdays are much more exciting than the average 9 to 5. When you’re in hockey season, what does a typical day involve?  

Of course there’s no such thing as a typical day but a standard training day would look something like this:

7am: Rise and shine, I like to have breakfast two hours before training so that it has time to digest before we start a heavy session.

9-11:30am: Full team training on the pitch where we have a mixture of strength, power, speed and endurance exercises built into our drills.

11:30am-12pm: Recovery and ice baths- submerging our lower bodies into freezing cold water to help relieve muscle soreness for the following day.

12-1pm: We have lunch together and a meeting to discuss the figures that we produced in the weeks training session on our GPS and heart rate, and talk about where we need to improve and work harder as well as highlight those who have done well.

1:30pm-3pm: We have gym that consists of Olympic lifting, heavy weights and a crossfit style of work-out, depending on the individual and their needs.

6pm: Is dinner and couch time as I am buggered from the big day of training!

9:30pm: Try to get in bed by this time so that I get enough rest to do it all again the next day!

A Day In The Life Of, Inspirational Women, life advice, talent, sportswomen, sport, fitness, Hockeyroo

What are your goals for the future?

My ultimate goal is to win Olympic gold… the pinnacle of our sport. Individually I want to be the best player I can in the best team I can… therefore the best player in the world in the best team in the world.

What advice would you give to someone following the same path as you?

Always look to better yourself in all areas as an athlete. Whether it be mental or physical or technical, push the boundaries and try do what others can’t. If you believe you can and do everything to achieve it, anything is possible. The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is good things don’t come easy. And if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. For anyone wanting to get into professional sport, I would say, you need to set goals, have a plan, be determined to achieve it and give 100%. But more than that, enjoy what you are doing, the more fun you have the more memories you make and the rewards are priceless.

Inspirational Women: Ellyse Perry

Each week SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.

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Tell us about what you do. What is it? What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I’m an athlete who plays cricket and soccer, whilst also studying part time.

When did you know this is what you wanted to do this as a career?

I only really realised when I first started doing it. When I made my debut for Australia and had my first opportunity to experience sport at the highest level, I realised that it was exactly what I wanted to do.

You made history being the first Australian women to compete in both cricket and football (soccer) World Cups at a very young age. How have things changed for you since you began competing competitively?

Things haven’t really changed too much for me. I’ve always loved playing sport, whether it was in the backyard with my family, at my local club on the weekends or representatively for Australia. Sport has been a huge part of my life for a long time, and I feel incredibly lucky to call it my career.

You have are a big inspiration for women in sport. How do you find competing in such a male dominated environment?

I love it – cricket and soccer are just as much games for women as they are men. I’ve played with both boys and girls when I was younger, and men and women since then too. Some of my best friends are a group of guys I grew up playing club cricket with. One of the great things about sport is that it is a tremendous leveller. It’s also a great way to find common ground and relate to people. Whilst in the past there were a number of barriers in place to women’s participation, I think by and large a lot of those barriers have been broken down. Cricket Australia and Football Federation Australia have and continue to work tremendously hard to makes their sports inclusive for all people in all different realms of participation. I think it’s a really exciting time for women’s sport in Australia, and a lot of development has and is continuing to occur.

Your hard work has been recognized worldwide with countless accolades to your name – what do you feel is your biggest achievement?

I think having the opportunity to experience playing for Australia in two sports that I love has by far and away been my greatest highlight.

How do you deal with the pull between both cricket and football? What were the stumbling blocks, initially getting started since then?

I have some truly wonderful support, from cricket and soccer as well as my friends and family; they are the people who make it possible to play two sports that I love. I always think I have the easiest role in it all, to just go out and play. The biggest challenges always come when there is a clash in competitions that means I can’t play both sports at that particular period.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I find inspiration from a number of different sources, but I think mostly from an intrinsic motivation to keep getting better and learning – as a player and as a person. I love that every training, every game and every tour is an opportunity to work on things and often learn more about yourself. I think a lot of the experiences I’ve had as an athlete have shaped my thoughts and beliefs about so many things in life. My parents have also been a tremendous form of inspiration for me, as too have lots of athletes from a variety of sports.

What are your goals for the future?

To keep enjoying what I’m doing as much as I am at the moment. I’d really like to make a contribution to both sports that will make a tangible difference for years to come. Especially if that means getting more girls involved and active in sport at all levels and in all different capacities.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?

It probably comes as no surprise that I would say go for it, give it your absolute best shot. One thing I have always tried to hold myself to is to never dismiss an opportunity or potential experience without giving it the greatest of considerations. Sometimes you find the best learning and development opportunities come from things that you’d never expect. Take the time to talk to people and hear their thoughts and ideas.  And most importantly hold on to your own confidence and self- belief, it’s your greatest tool for success.