When Canberra Olympic striker Tina Skinner scored six goals in her first pre-season match in 2019, you could be forgiven for thinking that she had been playing the sport since she was a toddler.
In fact, Skinner hasn’t played football for seven-and-a-half years and only has two seasons of experience under her belt.
The 28-year-old striker played in the local women’s competition when she was a teenager before a severe hip injury caused her to take a break from the sport.
“I had a hip injury when I was playing for Canberra FC against Tuggeranong,” Skinner shared. “I went up for a header and landed directly on my hip which meant I missed the rest of the season.
“I decided to take a break from the sport and focus on my work for a while instead. Now after seven and a half years, I am back.
“I am petrified of headers now that I am playing again. I try to use the excuse that I am really short – I am the shortest in the team – to not go up for headers,” she said with a laugh.
During her break, her partner Aiden and she launched Little Kickers, which teaches 18-months to 7-year-olds the basic techniques of the sport. Skinner said it was teaching the little ones the sport that inspired her to put the boots and shinpads back on.
“Doing Little Kickers every day really inspired me to get back into the sport,” she said. “I hope to be an inspiration to the little girls but also to their parents to get involved in the sport.”
Skinner has come back to the sport with a bang, scoring nine goals during three preseason matches. Her form and her eagerness to help the team improve caught the eye of head coach Andrew Woodman, who tapped her on the shoulder to tell her that she was going to captain the side.
Her secret to success is putting no expectation on her self.
“I was completely shocked when Andrew and Nicole [Begg] decided I would be captain because I am such a quiet person,” she shared.
“I don’t put any expectation on myself. I just go in fully focused on being the best I can and staying positive throughout, regardless of the result.
“Even before I was told I was captain, I felt like I had a sense of responsibility to step up and let the girls know that I am 110 per cent committed to helping us be the best we can be.”
Last season Olympic finished fourth before being knocked out in semi-finals by Skinner’s former team Canberra FC but the new captain believes her side are capable of breaking Canberra FC and Belconnen United’s stranglehold on the competition.
“We are such a young team and we have some much potential. I hundred per cent believe we can go a lot better than last year even if it is to make the semi-finals,” she told Region Media.
“I look to other teams like Canberra FC, Belconnen and Canberra United Academy for little bits of inspiration that we can use to help strengthen us as well.
“My focus is to build a positive mindset and team culture and really applying that onto the field, which I feel has been our downfall in the past.”
NPLW Round One
Monaro Panthers vs Canberra Olympic
Riverside Stadium, Queanbeyan
Kickoff at 5 pm on Saturday 30th of March