Otago Polytechnic footballing ākonga keeping her hand in

Like many football fans, Tessa Nicol’s passion for the sport has been well-stoked in recent weeks.

Tessa Nicol 1200X600

Yet the Otago Polytechnic | Te Pūkenga ākonga (learner) is no spectator. A goalkeeping coach, she’s been in the thick of the action, her experiences ranging from heading to Fiji recently to help the New Zealand Under-20 women's team qualify for the World Cup in Columbia in 2024, to being invited to a closed training session with the Switzerland team in Dunedin.

And now she’s about to pack her bags for Festival 23, an eight-day “football-for-good” event in Sydney (August 6-14), which coincides with the quarter-final stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™.

One of 70 women from around the world to participate in the Sydney leadership workshop, Tessa describes the next chapter as “the icing on the cake” in a year that has been full of opportunities.

“Attending Festival 23 will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. We will be involved with running festivals for children and youth, learning about sustainable sporting practices, tackling gender issues and, of course, attending a FIFA Women's World Cup quarter-final match.

“For me, the big one will be making connections with other fabulous women from around the world, learning about their challenges and what they've done to overcome them.”

Tessa Nicol

Ākonga (learner), Bachelor of Applied Science

Tessa admits it’s been a challenge to manage the demands of study with all her opportunities, but the understanding and support of her Otago Polytechnic academic supervisors has helped greatly.

“It feels like I’ve only just come back from Fiji, where I was goalkeeper coach for the NZ Under-20 team, and now I’m about to head off to Sydney.”

Tessa is in the third-year of studying a Bachelor of Applied Science at Otago Polytechnic. Her final-year project has a strong goalkeeping focus, an area she is keen to develop.

“My project is centred around identifying the need for goalkeeper-specific coaching and development. The football community has regularly expressed the importance of our goalkeepers and the part they play in a team.

“I enrolled in the Bachelor of Applied Science knowing that I wanted to have a role in football of some kind. The programme initially appealed to me because of the variety of classes. I wanted to understand the sport and health sector holistically so I could help people more.

“That said, I've learned more – and had more opportunities— than I thought I would ever have studying.

“I've been able to explore other areas I am interested in outside of football as well, such as PE teaching, health issues in the community and research projects for other sporting organisations.” 


Published 1 August 2023

Published on 02 Aug 2023