Open. Candid. Powerful. Just some of the words used to describe Sam Kerr’s presentation at the Petroleum Club of WA’s first function of 2018 on 30th January.
While the world of professional sports and the oil and gas industry may not seem to have a lot in common, the Matilda’s star forward gave the audience insight into coping with expectation, leadership and diversity - concepts that traverse across industries.
"I went from being pretty much a nobody in sport to not being able to walk down the street without been asked by someone to do a backflip," said the Perth Glory captain with a laugh, while describing her whirlwind 2017.
Last year, Kerr was the first Australian woman to be named a finalist for FIFA Female Player of the Year, after already claiming awards as the Australian Sports Woman of the Year, the ABC Sports Personality of the Year, the MVP of the USA National League, the Julie Dolan Medal for Australia's W-League and Asian Women's Footballer of the Year.
"Now there is an expectation for me to perform. Before I could just go out and play as a nobody and if I scored it was a bonus. But now there is an expectation for hat tricks and backflips every time I go out,” said Sam when quizzed on her coping mechanisms.
The 24-year-old short but successful career began in East Fremantle and has so far featured stints with Sydney FC and the Western New York Flash before her return to captain the Perth Glory in 2014.
"Perth is a small place, but that's what I love about Perth. I love coming back here, and I'll never leave. We have a tight community and considering that both my Dad and brother played a sport here, I feel like I know everyone.
It's not just Kerr's on-field exploits, which are making the headlines, Sam's work advocating for women in sport earned her the title of Young Australian of the Year just days before her discussion at the Petroleum Club.
"When I was kid I thought I'd grow up and play for the West Coast Eagles and go to Aquinas - an all-boys school – because I didn't have any concept of what was achievable. The great thing about girls growing up today is that we have AFLW, the W-league, cricket all sorts of sports that girls can aspire to."
"I love being a role model for young kids. It's not something any of us take lightly," she said.
While the striker has had a stand out year, which featured high profile wins against football powerhouse teams such as USA and Brazil, Kerr accredits her ability to cope with her new found fame to the national teams support staff along with her family and friends.
“Recently we’ve hired a sports psychologist for the Matilda’s who I’ve been working with closely.
“I never really believed in psychology before, because I’m an athlete and I don’t need that type of thing, but recently I’ve found it really helpful. When you go out there, and you're not performing you feel like the whole world is watching you,” continued Kerr.
The soccer superstar may be known for sinking goals; however becoming a leader on the pitch is where Kerr is evolving her game.
“I like being a leader. I like to be that person on the field who stays positive, that people can come to and score a winner in the 90th minute. You don’t always have to be the one who speaks the loudest or talks the most, you can lead with your actions,” said Samantha.