“Some might say I didn't really have a choice!”
Tasmanian Community Bid Champion Natina Monteleone laughs that her love for football comes via her family genetics.
And when you look at the Monteleone family’s involvement in the game, the football coach and mentor probably had her path set before she even kicked her first ball.
“Coming from a big Italian football family, football is in my blood,” she said.“My uncle was the club president; dad coached; my brothers and even mum played at the local club too.”
While the family DNA might have pointed her in the direction of the round ball, Monteleone embraced the family tradition from a young age.
From playing with brothers and cousins in the backyard in Victoria, she started playing competitively as a 13-year-old for a local club. Soon she advanced to Victoria’s State League 1, and finally a Premier League university team as she pursued a move for a medical degree.
[READ MORE: CBC Profile - Julie Porter (QLD)]
[READ MORE: CBC Profile - Julia Chernoukha (NSW)]
A career ending injury saw the 26 year old turn to volunteering to keep in touch with the game and pass on her experiences and passion for football.
Monteleone is now dedicated to helping grow the participation of girls and women in the Northern Tasmanian Junior Soccer Association.
As well as coaching her own teams, the Community Bid Champion regularly hosts events for girls in the region, driving a feeling of connectedness.
“I believe football is such a great community sport that has enormous benefits for physical and social wellbeing,” she said of her decision to transition to coach and administrator.
“My Football community in Northern Tasmania has put a lot of effort into female football in the region.”
“They have actively encouraged girls' teams, with social and elite playing options. They have also been very supportive of girls that wish to play in mixed teams.
“Senior female players are taking on mentoring roles for the junior girls and this has made a world of difference to the young girls coming through.”
Making a difference is important for Natina Monteleone. Away from the pitch she is a senior medical student, and concurrently undertaking a Masters in Public Health to further develop skills in a public medicine forums.
Her dedication to helping girls and women take up sport is one of the reasons Monteleone became a Community Bid Champion.
“One of the best things for a young player is to have a role model to look up to,” she said.
“A FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ in Australia would provide exposure for so many young Australian girls to see so many world class players, showing that there is a future in football for them.”
“It would mean the world to have such an amazing event on home soil.”