Interview with Emma Wallis

Having already overcome 1 ACL injury already, nobody could blame Emma Wallis for being a bit careful when returning to football. But to then have the same injury happen a second time!, can be a scary position to be in for anyone hoping to become a professional player.

A long term injury doesn’t just impact the player’s ability to train and play games, but also the mentality and confidence going forward after the recovery.

We caught up with Emma to see how she’s dealt with the injury and look ahead to her return.

Which footballer, men’s or women’s, would you love to play alongside?

Without a doubt, Kevin De Bruyne.

What team do you support?

Arsenal ‘till I die – COYG!

Who inspires you?

Lucy Bronze – as a fullback myself, I learn lots by watching her play.

3 songs from your playlist?

1) Gecko Overdrive – Oliver Heldens x Becky Hill
2) Million Dollar Bill – Whitney Houston
3) Glorious – Macklemore

Do you have any pre match rituals?

Always have to go for a wee!

A footballing memory you’ll never forget?

Travelling to Dublin with the English Schools U15 squad was pretty memorable. I featured in matches against Scotland and Northern Ireland and I will never forget the experience.

Which 4 team mates would you pick on your 5-a-side?

Lucy W, Paige, Blue, Peskett

We’ve had a good start to the season, probably the best we could have asked for?

The girls have been great, and have worked hard to gain good momentum something that I’m sure everyone wants to maintain when we’re back.

Has this second lockdown had any negative effects on the mood in the camp?

Understandably, there was a lot of frustration among the squad. However, I wouldn’t say it has negatively affected the mood, as it has given everyone a chance to work on other aspects of their game – even if the situation is not ideal…

When the season gets underway again, there is a risk of some fixture build up. So keeping fitness up during this lockdown period is even more essential?

Staying fit has definitely been one of the main priorities during this lockdown. But it has also been an important time to rest, in mind that the intensity of fixtures may start to build up.

Given your lengthy injury, do you see the lockdown as an opportunity to get back to playing fitness and ready for the restart?

It has been a good opportunity to refine certain aspects of my game both physically, technically and tactically, in preparation for my return, especially without missing any matches. But I would also say that being integrated into team training would’ve been more ideal!.

This was your second ACL injury. What was your initial thoughts when it was confirmed?

The news of the second injury was gutting – a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I was so close to my return after the first one and it took me a while to really comprehend that I’d done it again.

Is it the same ACL as the first time?

No, the first was to my left knee, but the second was to my right knee; I’ve got matching scars!

Having it happen again, does it affect your confidence when coming back to playing?

I have definitely been frustrated from a technical point of view, as I have felt rusty, though I can feel improvements as time goes on and that gives me confidence.

How has the club helped with your 2 ACL injuries?

The club have been great and have supported me throughout this long spell on the side lines. They have still kept me involved in the team environment as well as supplying the physiotherapy to allow me to rehab properly.

How have you kept yourself occupied during the time out?

I initially took a big interest into sports psychology, completing a long project on it through school. But generally, it has sparked my interests into sports science and strength and conditioning, which I’m not sure would’ve happened if I didn’t get injured.

Does the thought of a reoccurring injury play on your mind? Especially with it being such a long term recovery?

I think it is quite present in my mind at the moment, but once I get the feeling of playing properly again, I think this will disappear as my focusses lie elsewhere.

Have you managed to get involved in any games in training, or is it too soon?

Before lockdown, I was joining in non-contact training. I hope to progress to contact training and eventually matches soon. Even though I am itching to get back, I do not want to rush this stage!

How soon can we expect to see you back playing?

It’s hard to say. I need to make sure my return to contact goes well without any knee issues, before even thinking about competitive matches. Realistically, this will probably be in the New Year.

What are your personal thoughts about men’s teams being allowed to play but women’s being stopped?

It’s difficult to criticise the situation as the hierarchy of the systems work differently, meaning the rules and guidelines aren’t the same.

Does it feel like the women’s game has kind of been brushed aside and doesn’t get the respect it deserves?

I did initially feel this, and still think we could’ve at least trained during the lockdown, but I think it’s something that could’ve been reviewed a bit better.

Do you believe that the club has the facilities to ensure safety if we had of been allowed to continue during the lockdown?

I do think we could’ve carried on training safely, as we all know the seriousness of the situation and would’ve done everything in our control to keep that possible.

We have been given a date to restart the season. Is it about preparation now, and making sure we restart how we finished off?

Yes preparation is important and we definitely want to restart how we left. It will be important to prepare in the same way as we always have and not do anything differently.

What has the club been doing during the lockdown to keep players going?

We have had zoom workouts, psychology workshops and general squad calls, so a relatively busy zoom schedule!

We will start off with the FA Cup game when we return. We play a team lower than us. As much as we’re expected to win, there is always a chance of an upset?

I always think that it’s important to be grounded when playing a team in a lower league. Looking back to last year, we beat teams in higher leagues than us on our FA cup run, so it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves.

Being the first game back, might it take time to get back into the flow again?

I think if anything, this odd period has made us more appreciative of being able to play, so I think the team will be raring to go and buzzing for the first match back!

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