Johnson aims to pay forward her knowledge to younger players

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Melbourne City defender Samantha Johnson values the importance of youth engagement and hopes to be the veteran presence in a young City locker room this season.

As players in sports move to establish themselves as an athlete and an individual outside of their respective sport, Johnson was one of them.

She stepped away from the game in 2019 to focus on youth outreach and this season will be Johnson’s first season back after her hiatus.

As a player, Johnson is a physical, versatile and intimidating opponent.

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Although she is far more approachable and open towards the younger generation of players, as she said older player’s had a big impact on young players.

However, she was lucky enough to have the former University of Southern California coach Ashley Nick and teammate Karina LeBlanc mentor her.

While facing the challenges of being a professional athlete, she also had to adapt to a change of positions.

Johnson said the change of positions was the most challenging learning curve in her career, though LeBlanc helped in the transition.

“[LeBlanc] helped me build my confidence in the new position, she taught me a little about the position, but it was more about building confidence just to back myself,” she said.

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Although City’s roster is one of the youngest in the league, it will test her ability to pay forward her knowledge of the game to her younger teammates.

As a team leader, Johnson’s primary role will be to build confidence in her younger teammates rather than focus on the game’s technical side.

She said the season would be about the details rather than looking too far ahead.

“You can’t rush the development on the football side of things; that just comes with the natural process,” she said.

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With a young side, who will be prone to mistakes, if Johnson can help instil the confidence she has in herself towards her teammates, the latest iteration of City is in for a bright season.

Johnson has a goal of one day having a school to help those in need, and her ability to mentor and educate her fellow teammate will be a great tool for her future career outside the game.

Feature image credit: Melbourne City

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Pokuah Frimpong
Obsessed football fan, current journalism student.