Player of the Month: Lia Privitelli

Q&A with Bulleen winger Lia Privitelli, the Winning Edge Presentations Player of the Month.

Lia Privitelli's story is one of persistence and fighting back against the odds.

Hip issues consigned the Bulleen winger to just 45 minutes last season, and after being told she may not ever play again, the 19-year-old attacked rehab with an unbreakable determination and is now fighting fit and reaping the rewards.

FFV's Julian Trantino caught up with the Winning Edge Presentations WPL Player of the Month (Rounds 5-8), who has scored five goals in the past month and is the league's leading goalscorer.

JT: Lia, congratulations! How does it feel to be voted the player of the month?

LP: It?s actually quite a surprise. It feels good and gives me a big confidence boost, so I can use it as an inspiration to keep doing well.

How have your rated your past month?

I guess I?ve been playing well in comparison to what I went through last year (at Bulleen), with not playing at all because of my injury. I?ve been using that as determination to do my best when I?m out on the field.

How severe was your injury?

I had some hip issues and I had to have two operations. I was in rehab for about a year and I?ve only just come back to playing. I had a really good rehab and just used that as determination to get back out and do my best.

I only played 45 minutes last season under instruction from my physio, and that was in the second half of the season.

Were the hip issues sustained over a single incident or not?

The bone condition is hereditary, so I was born with it, but you don?t find out you?ve got that problem until you?re in your 70s or playing a lot of sport.

In my case, I played a lot of sport and kind of just ignored the pain and then I went to about six different physios and they had no idea what was wrong with me.

That happened over two years, so I was pretty much playing injured for two years without knowing what was wrong with me. Then I was eventually told I would have to be operated on as soon as possible on both legs. I was also told there was a chance I would never be able to play again.

I would like to say they?re almost 100 per cent, but I still have niggles every now and then but I think that?s just something I?m going to have to deal with for a while now.

So while you were in rehab with a career-threatening injury, what pushed you to get through those hard times and get to where you are today?

I guess when I was told I may not play again, I wanted to prove people wrong, so I used that as positive energy.

I think also seeing all the girls doing really well since moving up from State 2 to State 1 and then finally getting into the Premier League, I was almost jealous having to sit on the bench and watch them play in the Premier League.

It?s just great to be out on the field and it?s even better to win an award such as this, but my main aspiration is to keep playing well.

What made you take up football and do you have someone you look up to?

I used to just play soccer with the boys in primary school and then I tried to convince Mum to let me play. She thought it was just a phase I was going through, so for about two years I had to convince her that I really wanted to play and she finally gave in, so then I started it all off at Doncaster Rovers.

My inspiration over my whole life is Cristiano Ronaldo. I will never compare to him, but I always watch him play and just live on YouTube watching him. He?s just phenomenal. If I could just base any small part of my game on him, that would be great.

You?re definitely reaping the rewards of all your hard work and now find yourself as the league?s leading goalscorer. Of all the goals you?ve scored, which one has been your favourite?

My favourite goal would be my second one against Box Hill. It sealed the game for us and we won 3-1.

I?ve never considered myself a person to score a goal from long range, but I?ve scored two from long range this season. That one (against Box Hill) shocked me and shocked a lot of other people as well, so it has to be my favourite.

Has it come as a surprise that your side currently sits on top of the ladder, given not many from the outside would have predicted this?

I?m not sure I?d say it?s a surprise, because we?ve worked really hard for what we?ve achieved so far. It comes down to our hard work and what Bobby?s (McGuinness) done.

We?ve got a great bunch of girls and we?re all there to do really well and that?s exactly what we?re doing. I think we?re surprising other people more than what we?re surprising ourselves.

As I?m sure you?d know, Bob McGuinness has been named as the coach of the month. How does he rate to other coaches you?ve had during your years at Bulleen, Doncaster Rovers and NTC?

I?ve had Bobby as a coach before and he?s one of the best coaches I?ve ever had. He?s just an inspiration, he knows what he?s talking about and he?s so good with the girls.

The most important thing though is that he likes to have fun and it?s not serious all the time. Don?t get me wrong, he?s pretty strict sometimes, but he loves to have a joke and all the girls just love him.

Now that you?re fit and firing again, do you have plans to one day step up from the Sportsmart WPL?

I would love to play W-League one day, but right now I?m going to focus on Bulleen and like the rest of the girls I?m aiming to win the title. So it?s just one step at a time, but I guess if I had to talk about future aspirations, W-League is definitely on my to-do list.

The Winning Edge Presentations WPL Player of the Month is voted by FFV's match reporters, who give their 3-2-1 votes after each match. Privitelli received nine votes from Rounds 5-8.

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