New recruit relishing Glorious challenge

As a gifted, versatile midfielder with Westfield W-League title-winning experience and international honours to her name, it’s not hard to see why Head Coach Bobby Despotovski was so keen to add Nicola Bolger to his Glory squad.

And although the decision to leave her hometown club, Sydney FC, was not an easy one for the 24-year-old, the lure of a new challenge here in the West was too tempting to turn down.

“I am a big believer that opportunities will come and go and sometimes it’s worth taking a risk and venturing down a different path,” she said.

“I am forever grateful for my time and experiences with Sydney FC. They are a great club and I take away many incredible footballing memories after successful and enjoyable seasons.

“But it was always a goal of mine to venture interstate in the W-League whenever the timing allowed it and I’m fortunate to be in a situation off the field that allows me to pursue this opportunity.

“I’m lucky enough to have the full support of family, friends and loved ones that has allowed me to head to Perth.

“It’s a new team, a new state and a new opportunity with a club that has proven to be very competitive and successful in the past few seasons and I’m very eager and excited for what’s ahead."

Bolger was still cutting her W-League teeth as a teenage rookie when Alen Stajcic’s Sky Blues side won the Championship and Premiership double in 2009, but that did not prevent her from gaining a keen insight into what ingredients are required to achieve success in the competition.

“From my experiences with Sydney,” she said, “it comes down to a complete, holistic approach with all parties involved and moving in the same direction; players, staff and everybody involved with the team and club.

“Plus of course, hard work and dedication, the ability to balance football and off-field commitments which is an ongoing battle for W-League players and a one-for-all approach with everyone buying into the team’s philosophy.

“The improvement in every team year to year, plus the short length of the season, allows for minimal errors from teams and means you almost have to hit the ground running, find good form quickly and make that top four come finals time.

“And from there, as we all know, anything can happen.”

Fortunately for the off-season recruit, her international experiences with the Matildas mean that she is already familiar with several of her new Glory teammates, including club skipper and woman of the moment, Sam Kerr.

“Glory have fielded some really great international players in the past few seasons,” she said, “and I’m definitely looking forward to the opportunity to combine with them.

“In terms of who I’m particularly looking forward to playing with, I don't think you can go far past Sam.

“I have always loved playing with her through the national teams and previous Sydney FC seasons together, so I’m definitely looking forward to getting out on the field with her again.”

On the subject of all things Matildas, Bolger regards representing her country at the World Cup as one of her proudest career moments.

But she is reluctant to view her switch to Glory as a potential catalyst for forcing her way back into the national team picture.

“It is a real privilege getting to put the green and gold on,” she said, “and every moment I spent with the Matildas is something I will probably always consider one of the greatest feelings you can have as an athlete.

“The World Cup in Canada [2015] definitely holds an incredible place in my memory bank.

“All the players and staff are extremely professional and the direction of women’s football in this country is both exciting and limitless in my opinion, especially going off the girls’ most recent success at the Tournament of Nations. 

“At this point I am really enjoying my football which, for me, is crucial to performing well. I am in a really good place both on and off the field, feeling fit, healthy and happy and am very much focused on having a really good season with Glory this year.

“Other forms of representation are always on the radar, but at the moment I am just focused on doing well with Glory. From there we will just see what happens.”

So with her mind well and truly upon domestic matters, which clubs does Bolger feel Glory will need to overcome if they are to secure a maiden W-League title?

“I’m sure Melbourne City will produce a quality side again and be extremely competitive throughout the season,” she said. “They have proved that since entering the league.

“I wouldn't really know otherwise; it will be interesting to see the movement across the league in terms of recruitments and international signings. But the usuals I’m sure will be in the mix; Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane.

“Perth, of course, had an awesome year just past and narrowly missed out on the silverware. so I’m looking forward to going one better with the girls this season!”

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