Interview with Rachel Cuschieri

Rachel Cuschieri, photograpgy: Joe Borg

Here’s a short interview with one of the amazing players of the Women’s National Team – this team, after 10 years of hard work, have in April 2013 have made it through the qualifying round for the first time in history and will now play in the group stage of the FIFA World Cup!

Name: Rachel Cuschieri

DOB: 26th April 1992

Star sign: Taurus

Is your star sign true to your character? My star symbolizes the animal it represents which is the bull, meaning strength. If you’re into sports, strength is a must together with other sport related qualities such as stamina and will. Taurus are also considered to be loving and patient. I think my star sign is true to the majority of my characteristics, but I would prefer if during games my patience is not tested :)

Hobby other than football: As a through and through active person, my hobbies are all related to sports such as swimming. On the other hand I love meeting my friends in my free time.

Club: Birkirkara

Position with Club: Midfielder

National Team position: Midfielder

National Team Appearances and goals: 35 games – 5 goals

When did you start to play football? At the age of 5 years

Why did you start to play football? At home, I am the only girl among 4 boys and so all we used to watch on TV was football. As they say… ‘If you can’t beat them, join them,’ and so I started to practiCe with my siblings and I fell in love with the game! Then at the age of five, I joined the San Gwann Nursery. I used to train with the boys and I consider it now an important foundation of my football career.

How did it feel? It was a bit strange 17 years ago seeing a girl playing football with boys. At first, my team mates used to think that I was a weak player, until I showed them what my brothers used to teach me at home. It felt great being the only girl in the team, people used to look at me and smile. I cherish all those years I spent there!

What would you say is your normal routine? It’s quite like the normal life of a 20 year old. Usually my routine depends on whether I’m working mornings or evenings. When I’m not working I usually meet my friends or spend some time alone at home with my family. Obviously, in the evenings I have my football training and sometimes I even go for a jog by myself. Even though I’m doing something active, it still relaxes me as I don’t have to concentrate on anything.

What do you feel when you play football? When playing football I forget about everything. Even though I have to concentrate on what I’m doing, I still feel free. When playing for your club you feel eager to get 3 points home after every game, eager to win the league. My team mates become like my family as we meet nearly everyday and face every kind of situation.

…and when you play for the National Team? Even though I don’t meet the national players that often, we are still close friends and so the environment still resembles that of a family. But when playing for the National Team you have sort of mixed emotions. Sometimes, wearing the shirt might feel like a bit of a weight on my shoulders as I’d really wish to make Malta proud of me and this in turn ignites an urge to work really, really hard. But at the end of the day wearing that shirt always gives you satisfaction. Even though results are not always in our favour, I’m sure that hard work will pay off like it did in the last World Cup Qualifiers a few weeks ago.

What did you feel throughout the qualifiers? I knew that we were prepared to the maximum for such matches, but still, the ball is round and anything can happen in a football match. You might lose the silliest game and win the tougher game. So we played match by match, always with our feet on the ground and always working harder. At first you feel a bit scared but once the referee whistles all the fear will vanish and you just concentrate on the game. When performances were giving us great results, we gain confidence in ourselves and this will surely help us in the next stage.

What did you feel when you won the last game and qualified for the first time in history? It was a great satisfaction. Qualifying was something that sounded impossible for us. Every one of us worked hard and we all knew that we deserved to qualify, but we didn’t really expect it. It was a moment of great pleasure that I will never forget. I’m really looking forward to feel what I felt on that day and I really wish that everyone gets the opportunity to feel proud of being Maltese. I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything!

What are you hoping or wishing for in the next phase? Before wishing and hoping, I concentrate more on the hard work that comes before the actual matches. What you do in training, you’ll do during the matches, so we must prepare ourselves to the maximum. Obviously, I wish that we get good results like we got in the last three National Matches but this only depends on our work. Above all, I hope that the environment we have in our team will never change. Feeling at ‘home’ with your team mates also makes a difference on the pitch.

How are you inspired regarding football? …or someone that inspires you? I have quite a lot of inspirations, according to the situation I find myself in. But my main inspiration is to never, ever give up. Losing a game doesn’t make you a loser, but giving up is what makes a loser, and above all I should always push myself to work harder! In football you must never feel that you’ve learnt all you need to know because there is always room for improvement. Even if you won everything – always feet on the ground. Some might expect me to name a football player as my inspiration but, honestly, my true inspiration is my family. Those people are the ones who always gave me good examples and stood by my side through good and bad, and I want to make them proud and show them how much I appreciate all the values and love they showed towards me!

If you can travel back in time and say something to ‘little you’ what would you tell yourself? When it comes to football, looking back I don’t have any regrets. Obviously I’m not perfect, I made several mistakes, but I prefer to look at them as lessons. With regards to life in general, I would tell ‘little me’ to focus more on school and make it a priority in life. I never was academically inclined and I abandoned my studies soon after Fifth Form. I would suggest all youngsters to put some effort into their studies. It is possible to find time for everything – football, family, friends, computer… and even school!