As you have probably guessed by now, I am a HUGESports, Fitness, Health Enthusiast, and a self-confessed advocate for Women In Sport, so when an opportunity landed in my inbox to interview a few of the ladies from the England International Football team on their #roadtocanada supported by Continental Tyres ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup taking place between the 6th June 2015 – 5th July 2015 I jumped at the chance without a moment’s hesitation! The first of the ladies I had the pleasure of interviewing was Chelsea Ladies sensational Striker Eniola Aluko…
Now Eni is no stranger to me, for I have actively watched her on television over the years dribble her way past her opponents at lightning bolt pace only to net some fantastic and crutial goals for her team and acts as the PERFECTrole model for young girls and women both on and off the pitch!
I caught up with Eniola over a few weeks ago via a recorded conference call to discuss all things football, the ever nearing FIFA Women’s World Cup, her thoughts on nutrition as a professional athlete and her qualifications as a Sports Lawyer. After introducing myself to her and her agent, I began the 10 minute interview with the following question….
For those not familiar with the training aspect of football, briefly describe a typical training session at the Chelsea Ladies training ground?
Training sessions vary depending on when games are. Like for instance this week we are playing a game tomorrow so Monday through to Wednesday has been very light and technical so not really heavy on the legs but on a week where we play a game on a weekend, we will have three heavy sessions a week which may include strength and conditioning workouts using weights.
Monday’s are usually my day off and Tuesday’s are our recovery days. We have a pretty taxing schedule but it all helps prepare us for a game on a weekend.
You have a younger brother that currently plays for Hull City. Given that you both play football professionally, were your parents always supportive of your decisions?
Yes, my parents were always very supportive and always encouraged us to play with freedom and to continue doing the sport that we love.
Excluding family and friends, who has had the biggest impact in your professional career?
Erm, I’d probably say Emma Hayes, my current coach at Chelsea Ladies Football Club. She has been a good friend of mine for a number of years and even when I was in America she would always kept in touch and encourage me to be confident in my ability and to focus on performance.
She has really helped me with the psychological side of the game as well and it is no co-incidence that under her I am probably playing my best football in my career with Chelsea.
So I think Emma has been the biggest influence out of all my coaches in terms of the technical, psychological and the mental side of things as well and I am really pleased that she is my manager at this moment.
Being a professional athlete, one assumes your daily diet contributes to your success on the field. If you were to summarize a typical food diary, what would this contain?
Ok *pauses for a second to gather her thoughts*
Nutrition is a huge part of performance and it is something that athletes have to be very strict with. For me, to summarize what I have on a typical day would be porridge in the mornings topped with fresh fruit and after training I would have a protein shake.
Lunch would be either chicken or a salad with sweet potato or pasta and some vegetables. I just brought myself a lovely Nutribullet and sometimes I would make a smoothie. My favourite smoothie at the moment is Apple, Avocado and Lemon with some spinach and honey.
For dinner I would usually have either a low carb option quinoa, buck wheat, with sea bass or chicken with asparagus, salad and for hydration I generally drink water or fresh juices. I do take quite a few supplements as well fish oils.
What is your favourite treat to indulge in that is not part of your daily diet?
Erm, I don’t really like eating unhealthy food as it doesn’t make me feel good but if I was gonna push the boat out I would probably say a burger now and again or a cheeky Nandos, although Nandos isn’t exactly unhealthy *laughs* I do like to indulge in a bit of Nandos every now and again!
During your footballing career you left the UK to play football in the United States. What were the main differences you noticed having played in both countries?
At the time, America was a professional league and here in England it wasn’t. There was a lot more money involved, there were professional contracts and the best players in the world were going to play in America at the time so for me it was an incentive.
That was probably the main differences playing in the US to here in the UK.
If you had to choose, what has been your greatest achievement or highlight in your sporting career so far?
My biggest achievement would probably be scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final for Charlton.
Meeting the Queen and winning outstanding achievement award at Brunel University where the Queen presented me the award.
In terms of biggest team achievement would probably be qualifying for the world cup in 2007.
In the lead up to FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada,which team do you think will be England’s biggest challenge?
I think France as they are the favourites to win the World Cup.
Football aside, you are also a Sports Lawyer who graduated with a First Class Degree at Brunel University. What inspired you go into law?
Well I’ve always been fascinated with Law. When I was younger I always had a natural instinct to represent people, so I think that I was naturally wired with the mind set of Lawyer and then we I went to Uni and did really well with my degree I realised I could actually practice Law.
I really enjoyed studying Law and kind of took it from there.
I saw a TV interview where you attempted to pass the bar exam in New York and similarly in London. What were the reasons behind sitting these exams in two different locations?
Just to clarify I didn’t try and sit them both at the same time. When I was in America I thought it would be wise to try and get a qualification whilst there but unfortunately I didn’t pass that allowed me to make a decision to focus on qualifying in England and that paid off.
Are there any projects that you are currently involved with outside of football?
Not really no, I occasionally do some charity work and as I am an ambassador for Chelsea, I sometimes get involved with the Chelsea Foundation.
Lastly, outside of Football and Law, how do like to spend your time?
I like to hang out with my friends and go to concerts or the cinema. As a professional athlete, we don’t really get that much time to go out so I value spending quality time with my friends over dinner.
Throughout our conversation Eni had wonderful energy about her, was extremely easy to talk to and is every bit down to earth. One of the reasons why Eniola is the PERFECT role model in my eyes for young girls and women is simply because of her choice to combine her sporting career with getting an education, something that is quite rare in the world of sports nowadays and whilst I do not doubt that it may have been hard to juggle the two, her example is proof that you can indeed excel in your chosen sport obtaining and education.
On behalf of This Women’s Word’s readers, I would like to wish Eniola and the rest of her England Internation teammates the very best of luck in the FIFA Women’s World Cup taking place in June 2015.
Follow Eniola’s journey in the lead up to the World Cup by following her on Twitter.
I shall conclude this article with this short video clip of of Eniola’s #roadtocanada journey supported by Continental Tyres.
Danielle is a 1st Dan Kickboxing coach / Assistant Instructor under the PKA Kickboxing Association who is also a health, fitness, green beauty, wellness and lifestyle freelance writer / digital journalist. Her passions include encouraging others to lead an active, health conscious lifestyle whilst leading her Breakin' Boundrez team on various fitness related challenges.