SISTER ACT Grace and Niamh Kelly are pictured in their West Coast Eagles gear in Australia.
MY mornings in Perth usually start at around 8am. I start by drinking a glass of water and taking a hydrolyte which helps keep me hydrated from all the daily vigorous exercise in Perth’s hot weather conditions. I carry a water bottle everywhere I go as I am constantly thirsty here!
The weather is beautiful, ranging from 25 – 35 degrees during these Summer months – it’s glorious and we are very lucky to wake up to such amazing sunshine every morning! Once hydrated, I eat my breakfast, which usually consists of oats with fruit or an egg dish like poached eggs, avocado and toast.
After breakfast I take a stroll down to the local café for my usual Oat Milk Latte.
I love my morning coffee to kickstart the day.
On my walk down, I always think of three things that I am grateful for which really puts me in a positive mood and makes me realise all the goodness in my life.
At the café, as I sit down sipping my coffee, I usually do some work on my laptop for an hour. I am doing an online Personal Training course at the moment and by spending just one hour a day on work, it encourages me to work smarter to get a sufficient amount done in a limited amount of time and it leaves me feeling productive and ready for the rest of my day.
I go home and have a snack, usually a yoghurt and fruit. I then usually go do something with my two house-mates. I live with two Irish girls who also play with West Coast Eagles – my sister Niamh and Aisling McCarthy from Tipperary.
I love living with them as we get on really well and it’s like having a bit of home over here with me; that sense of familiarity and relatedness. It’s nice to talk to them about happenings at home and experience new places with them too.
Depending on the day, we may have meetings or we may go out for the day exploring Perth. If we have no commitments I usually either go for a recovery dip in the pool if the legs feel sore or do some light stretching and foam rolling in the gym in our complex. We go into the club at 2.30pm most days for some extra touch and skills before training commences.
We are just a 10-minute drive from the club so it’s very handy for us.
At the club, we spend about an hour working on our individual craft with the coaches available. There is also opportunity to look at some vision with coaches if we want to. The facilities are top-class and every time I walk in I am still in awe of how elite and professional the whole set-up is there.
We have access to so many coaches and staff members who are all so willing to help us reach our full potential as athletes.
WE have a real positive team culture with key values and behaviours that are shared and evident all over the West Coast Eagles club. The girls on the team are really encouraging and helpful and want you to feel at home here.
We have a great rapport with the men’s team too — every AFL player you pass at the club will stop to say hello and ask about your day. It’s an amazing environment to be around and there’s always someone to talk to if I’m ever unsure about something or just want a catch up about anything.
After our Extra Touch, we start preparing for our main training session.
I get my strapping done by a physio and there are massage opportunities for anyone who feels tight from training/game that week. I do some foam rolling and prehab work and once I am ready, I attend Mindfulness at 5pm with our well-being coach. This lasts for about 15 minutes and I have found great benefits from it.
I am often rushing and racing around the club, but when I get to Mindfulness I know for those 15 minutes that I can totally relax and unwind.
Our meditation space is very peaceful and calming with scented candles and meditation mist and we lie down on bean bags as our well-being coach goes through a mindfulness practice with us. We focus on breath work, visualisation as well as strategies to cope with work, football or any other stress.
Mindfulness has worked wonders for me. I find that I have a much clearer head when I come out of the room and I feel fully present and focused for training.
I generally grab a snack then like a cereal bar and a banana and then we have a team meeting in the Lecture Theatre where the head coach will go through the main aims of the session. After this, we split into our line meetings and talk about our roles with our line coaches and what we want to achieve from the session.
Once we are clear on the session, we throw on our boots and GPS units (oh and not forgetting the sun cream. The Ozzies are constantly reminding us Irish girls to lather it on us before every training session!). We run out onto the field for our main training at 6pm.
Training in the heat was quite tough in the beginning, but it only took a few weeks for us to acclimatise - I’m still the first in line for a slushie and iced water towels whenever they are given out though!
Training usually lasts for between 60 and 90 minutes and then we all do recovery in the ice baths. At 8pm it’s time for our post-training meal, which is provided for us at the club. Most nights, we are home by 9 or 9.30pm and it’s then time for Netflix.
Before I wind down for the night, most nights I Zoom call my boyfriend or family in Ireland at about 10pm Perth time which is 2pm at home. It’s nice to have that video call to look forward to every night and I like to hear the news at home too.
I have started journaling lately before I go to sleep. I write about what happened that day – positives, how I felt, what I achieved, and what I can improve on tomorrow. I enjoy writing all my thoughts out on paper and keeping track of my progress each day.
The latest I like to go to bed is midnight, but usually it’s 11pm so I am feeling well rested the next day.
In conversation with Michael Gallagher