From spag bol to superstitions: Mackenzie Arnold on her Matildas pre-game rituals.

Mackenzie Arnold, aka the Matildas' brick wall, is one of the most talked-about sports stars in Australia right now.

Amid the Women's World Cup down under, we saw goal keeper Arnold flex her incredible soccer talent, winning over a legion of fans. But before this tournament, Arnold admits she wasn't a particularly recognisable sportsperson. Now in the past two weeks, she has had countless people come up to talk to her. 

It's a weird but wonderful feeling, she tells Mamamia's No Filter.

"I'm not used to it, all of a sudden it's hit me. I went for a walk with mum and the dog, and this lady came up to me. We took a photo and then a group of kids came up to me, and I just couldn't believe it. It's been a whirlwind for sure."

Despite the fanfare, record-breaking audience numbers and intense media interest, Arnold says keeping focused on pushing the Matildas forward was her north star. And one way to achieving this was through a solid pre-game ritual. 

Watch the trailer for Matildas: The World At Our Feet. Post continues below.

Video via Disney+.

The first step of the routine was this - the night before a game, most of the players all enjoyed a nice bowl of spaghetti bolognese. Or any pasta of their choice.

Arnold aimed to get a good amount of sleep but notes she "didn't put a time on it" as that in itself would stress her out.

"We usually have a bit of a sleep-in on game-day mornings (around 9am), because most of our games are later in the day. Or we'll have a nap before the game," she tells No Filter.  

Then since the Matildas players were living in the same quarters during the Women's World Cup, a lot of them would also have breakfast together too.

"At the start of the tournament - before the game against Ireland - I went out for breakfast. And when we won against Ireland, I figured the next game I would then have to go out for breakfast again," Arnold says about her superstitions. 

'I think a lot of that comes into play when you play professionally. Throughout the tournament, we had been for a team walk before every game. Then before the quarter-final match our staff said it was too dangerous for us to go for our walk given all the public [waiting outside their hotel for them]."

But Arnold and her teammates got their way - and they managed to go on that team walk, and they felt better for it.

"You think about the last game [you won] and then you think to yourself 'Well, I have to do this thing again'. The second you lose though, it's out the window and you start again."


During the Women's World Cup, Arnold says she often had poached eggs and avocado on toast because she thought "I'm playing well so I'll stick to that. Another superstition". 

In between breakfast and the actual game, there's a lot of downtime. To chill out for a bit, Arnold says she would nap or "watch some Love Island".


Then on the way to the game, many of the Matildas players have headphones on.

"I'm quite different I listen to a bit of country or chill music. I don't like the big 'doof doof' music in my ear."

Ahead of the match, all the Matildas would go to the change room to get ready. It's in this environment that they started to switch their mindsets and prepare. 

"At breakfast we're all still quite chill and normal. We've been playing together for over 10 years now so we know how each other work," she explains.

"In the change room some people are dancing and not focusing on the game too much. And then there are some people who are very with themselves and you let them be."

Around three hours before a game, Arnold would have her final big meal, but bananas can be a godsend for energy and sustenance if needed. 

As for what would pump up the Matildas right before the big game? Listening to some music as a team on the speakers.

"Once we're in the change room, that's when you get your sing-a-longs and everyone is having a dance."

After the game - regardless of whether it's a win or a loss - Arnold says their post-match routine would be quite similar.


"Obviously the mood would be a bit down if there's been a loss. There will still be music on, but we probably won't be vibing much to it. But the ritual is quite similar. We'll go into the change room, do our ice baths and have a shower."

For Arnold personally, she's not crazy about an ice bath and doesn't do them often.

"At the end of every game, whether we win or lose, we will have a quick chat. It's a debrief. Then we get on the bus and head back to the hotel."

To Arnold when she details her routine, she says it's quite funny to think how interested everyday people find it. She still can't quite fathom the incredible reception the Matildas have received from the Australian public too.

But what's for certain is that our love for the Matildas is strong and here to stay.

"There's a lot more attention on us now. But in terms of me, how I feel and how I live every day, [fame] hasn't changed it and I don't think it will," she notes.

"I obviously always want to be a role model to anyone that I can be to, but I just feel more comfortable when I'm myself. And I think a lot more people can relate to that as well."

You can listen to the full interview with Mackenzie Arnold on No Filter now.

Feature Image: Instagram/Mamamia. 

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