24/05/2024

Michelle Heyman is back in green for another season. (Photo: Canberra United)

Julie Dolan Medallist Michelle Heyman has today become the first player to recommit to Canberra United for the 2021/22 W-League season.

It doesn’t tend to happen all too often that a club’s first re-signing for the next season is also the league MVP.

That’s just how it’s happened for Canberra United, however, as the club announced today that star striker Michelle Heyman would be spending a 10th season in green.

The announcement comes after Heyman finished second in the league’s Golden Boot award with 10 goals for the year, and also broke the W-League’s all time scoring record.

Despite hoarding the accolades in 2021, there’s a sense of unfinished business about the 33-year-old after United’s 3-0 loss to Sydney FC in the semi final closed out their season.

“As soon as the season finished last year, I think with the ending I got with the injury, it didn’t feel like I finished the season with Canberra United,” Heyman told media on Wednesday.

“For myself, it was just to be able to put the jersey back on and be able to be with the team again this season.”

Heyman returned to football in the 2020/21 season after taking a break post her one-year deal with rival club Adelaide United.

She spoke before the season on missing playing at the elite level. She credits her output across 2021 to enjoying what she was doing once again.

Winning the Julie Dolan Medal once again in particular, her second after winning the award for the first time in 2009 as a 21-year-old, gave Heyman a new perspective.

“I think when I first won the award I had no idea what it was really,” she said.

“I was just playing and having fun. There was no pressure on me. It’s funny when you look at it, that was 11 years ago and then now… last season, it was the exact same feeling that I had.

“I was just having fun, I was playing around, I was just enjoying my team with the team. There was zero pressure, minus one game to score one goal to get the leading goalscorer, I think that was the only pressure I put on myself the whole season.

“It was more about just having fun again. It’s the same conversation that I had with Phil [Brown, CEO] when I signed, I wanted to have that feeling again. As soon as I put the pen to paper, it was those feelings. I know what it’s like to be a Canberra United player and I know how much enjoyment I get out of it.”

Celebration
Heyman celebrates a come-from-behind win over Adelaide United with her teammates. (Photo: Canberra United)

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Heyman touches on keeping the pressure out of the game, but finding the right balance between winning and development will be key.

United was one of the youngest sides in the W-League last year, starting a number of teenagers including Emma Ilijoski, Jessika Nash, Laura Hughes, Sasha Grove and Hayley Taylor-Young at various points throughout the year.

While this came with much success, experienced sides like Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC found ways to get the better of the young Canberra team.

“I think it’s something that every wants, to be in the finals,” Heyman said.

“It’s not too much pressure, it’s what we expect of each other. It’s putting pressure in a positive way to have that self-belief to know that we can play finals football.

“There was a period of time for Canberra United where we didn’t know how we were going to get out of it to hit finals again. But last season, Vicki [Linton] really believed in us, she started from the get go trying to get that family vibe back in Canberra United.

“It was so positive, you can feel that energy on the field. We all do play for each other, we train harder for each other, we push each other so we can become finals footballers.

“What’s the point of playing if you’re not going to hit the finals?”

The 2021-22 W-League season is set to kick off on Saturday, November 13.

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