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Clare Wheeler (Fr 2017) – 20 Years of Undergraduate Women

Clare Wheeler (Fr 2017) is a professional soccer player, currently playing for Fortuna Hjorring in Denmark. Last year Clare made her international debut with the Australian women’s soccer team the Matilda’s and played in a number of international games since. Clare spoke with us about moving overseas, playing professional soccer and her memories of College.

Please tell us a bit more about yourself – where are you originally from and where did you grow up?

I was born in Coffs Harbour but spent most of my time growing up in Newcastle.

What were your favourite memories and what parts of College life were you involved in?

My favourite memories of my time at college was participating in College sport. It was always fun being a part of a team, helping others with football or getting help playing hockey. My fresher year win against Wesley was definitely one of my College highlights.

How has St Andrew’s influenced your life after College?

St Andrew’s allowed me to move to Sydney to pursue my football and academic ambitions. This has greatly benefited my football career and also my career readiness for life after football. 

St Andrew’s women have dominated the Rosebowl competition for over a decade. What do you think makes these women so successful in sport and other aspects of life? And how did you balance your sport and university while you were at college?

St Andrew’s has a great relationship with Sydney University Sport and Fitness (SUSF) which was one of the main reasons why I wanted to join Drew’s. Not only do they offer sport scholarships but they also offer tutoring and other support services for Drew’s athletes. 

This year (2021) you left your job at Macquarie Bank and Australia to join a professional soccer club Fortuna Hjorring in Demark. What was the process of gaining entry into a professional team? How does it feel to now be playing soccer full time?

Moving to Denmark to pursue football full time was a difficult decision to make during the COVID pandemic. However, it was an essential step for me in my pursuit of representing Australia at the 2023 Women’s Word Cup. Macquarie were extremely supportive of my decision and I’m deeply thankful of my time there.

To play in this team you have moved to Denmark. What has it been like adjusting to living on the other side of the world?

The language is definitely difficult to learn but the club provides us with language lessons to help. However apart from the language or driving on the opposite side of the road, I’ve been quite lucky moving to Hjørring. We have several Australian players and coaching staff here which make things easier.

This year you made your debut with the Australian women’s soccer team, the Matilda’s in the matches against Ireland and Brazil. What has the experience playing on the senior national team for the first time been like?

It’s hard to describe the last couple of months in a few words. From debuting in September 2021 as a last minute injury placement to recently representing the team at AFC. Every opportunity has been amazing and challenging. I’m excited and driven to continue at this level as I aim for the 2023 World Cup.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far – career or otherwise?

My biggest accomplishment in my career so far has been representing Australia at the 2022 Asian Cup. It was my first tournament for Australia and something I’ll always remember.

What do you like to do outside of playing soccer?

Outside of playing football, I’ve loved to travel and explore Europe when I can. I’ve never visited Europe before moving to Denmark, so I’m relishing every opportunity to explore cultures and cities across Europe.

Do you have any advice for young Androvians looking to pursue a career in sport?

Keep going. I believe a large part of being an athlete is down to perseverance. To persevere through the challenges and trust your path.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

The opportunity St Andrew’s provided me was pivotal towards my recent achievements. Their generosity following the loss of my mother was nothing short of incredible. From financial, tuition and other support, Drew’s gave me the opportunity to get a Sydney University degree and play for SUSFC in the NSW Women’s NPL 1. This is something I’m forever grateful for.