Grace Wisnewski is ready for the FIFA U-20 World Cup after a while away from her mental health

Grace Wisnewski went almost four months without playing a football match earlier this year as she took a break to take care of her mental health.

But after returning to play in an international age group friendly match between New Zealand and Australia in June, the 20-year-old is feeling better than ever and ready to play her part at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa this month. rica.

In February, Wisnewski competed in the Wellington Phoenix match in the A-League Women’s, citing her mental health condition, then deciding to return home early from Wollongong, where the team was based due to Covid-19 border restrictions.

“It was one of the best decisions I’ve made,” Wisnewski said before leaving for Costa Rica, at the ceremony in which the U-20 team were given their playing jerseys and given the opportunity to celebrate with friends and family.

Read more:
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Wellington Phoenix’s Grace Wisnowski will miss the match due to mental health reasons

“At the time I was horrified about it, but personally it worked out really well for me, and I’m grateful for the support I had at that time and the support I had all the time I was trying to get better.

“I improved a lot, but it was hard. I hate missing matches, I hate not training, but it was the best thing for me and it definitely helped me a lot.”

Wisnewski’s first match since February 18 came on June 12, as Junior Football Ferns beat their Australian counterparts 2-1 at Kiwitea St on the outskirts of Auckland.

When she first made the decision to take a break from football, she didn’t know if she was in a position to make it to the World Cup, but after working with psychologist and her Under-20 coaches, Gemma Lewis and Nat Lawrence, a back-to-play program was put in place.

“The operation used to come once a week for a while and then twice a week, but it didn’t take long to change that and come back completely, because I was missing it and I did miss everyone,” Wisnewski said.

Wisnewski said she’s feeling her best ever, after telling “a little” of the story of her mental health struggles in an open letter she posted on Instagram in May.

“I’m not saying I still don’t suffer sometimes because everyone suffers, but I think I was learning how to control that better and to make sure that a bad day didn’t turn into a bad week. I can control that and get out there and keep doing that.”

Grace Wisnowski made 11 appearances for Wellington Phoenix during her inaugural Women's Division I campaign.
Jason McCoy / Getty Images

Grace Wisnowski made 11 appearances for Wellington Phoenix during her inaugural Women’s Division I campaign.

Wisnewski loves to write and is always jotting things down in the notes app on her phone.

The message she published in May with the title “Dear Mental Illness…” began while she was in isolation with the Covid-19 virus, and while it was somewhat startling to have been widely seen, including by FIFA, world football’s governing body, She also knows that telling her story in her own words has helped her as she prepares to return to play and hopefully help others.

“I find that reading other people’s stories helps me a lot,” Wisnewski said.

“I finished it and two days later I posted it. It was all very fast so I didn’t think too much about it but I talk a lot about wanting to help people and I just hope it helps at least one person.”

In her letter to her mental illness, Wisnewski explained how she had been struggling constantly for at least four years, while finishing high school and shaping her football career in Hamilton and Auckland, as well as for New Zealand, which led to her being signed by Phoenix for her inaugural campaign last summer.

She was one of the stars, as New Zealand made history at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay in 2018, finishing third and taking the bronze medals. She won two Player of the Match awards and scored three goals, including two when her team beat Canada in the third-place playoff, but in her letter, she revealed that “the best month in [her] Life was “one of the hardest”.

“I was too afraid to play,” Wisnewski wrote. “You told me I wasn’t good enough, that I shouldn’t be out there, that there were people out there better than me. She gave me fear at a time when all I needed was strength. I was 16, living my dream. I wish I had enjoyed this.” the moment “.

The next step after that World Cup was supposed to be the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2020, but it ended up being canceled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, so the vast majority of the history-making U-17 team missed out on the tournament they were eagerly anticipating. .

As one of the younger players on the team in 2018, Wisnewski was still eligible to go to this year’s Under-20 World Cup, and she’s excited to make the most of the opportunity when her campaign kicks off this week.

“The past few months have been big for me,” said Wisnewski, who hopes to re-sign with Phoenix for a second season in the Women’s A-League this coming summer.

“It was tough – no one really talks about how hard it is to recover from being like ‘I don’t play anymore’ – but it was good.

“Coming home early from Phoenix is ​​probably the best thing I’ve ever done feeling my best ever.

“I’m really happy with how I feel and what I’m doing and grateful to be able to get back on the pitch and come to this World Cup.”

Junior Soccer Fern – FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2022


Kate Taylor (c), Millie Clegg, Ava Collins, Toei Duggan, Brianna Edwards, Ella Findlay, Massey Fraser, Riley Goodbold, Annella Jansen, Charlotte Lancaster, Zoe McMicken, Robbie Nathan, Jana Niedermayer, Emma Bijnenberg, Ava Pritchard, Marisa Van Pritchard Deer Mere, T. Rerimoana Walker, Charlotte Welford-Carol, Alyssa Wenham, Grace Wisniewski

Matches (New Zealand time)

Thursday, August 11, 8 a.m.: vMexico. Alejandro Moreira Soto Stadium, Alajuela

Sunday August 14, 5 a.m.: v Germany. Alejandro Moreira Soto Stadium, Alajuela

Wednesday, August 17, 11 a.m.: against Colombia. The National Stadium of Costa Rica, San Jose

Where do you get help?

  • 1737, need to speak? Call for free or text 1737 to speak to a trained counsellor.
  • New Zealand concern 0800 Concern (0800269 4389)
  • 0800 111 757 or text 4202
  • Kidsline 0800 54 37 54 For people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.
  • Lifeline 0800 543 354
  • Mental Health Foundation 09623 4812 Click here to access our free resource and information service.
  • rural support fund 0800 787 254
  • Samaritans 0800726666
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline 0508 828865 (0508 support)
  • yellow brick road 0800732825
  • Free web chat or email chat or text 5626
  • what’s up 0800 942 8787 (ages 5 to 18). Telephone counseling is available Monday through Friday, noon to 11 pm and weekends, 3 pm to 11 pm. Online chat is available daily from 3pm to 10pm.
  • youths 0800 376633, free text 234, email, or find online chat and other support options here.
  • If it is an emergency, click here To find your local Crisis Assessment Team number.
  • In life-threatening situations, call 111.

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