Some may forget that Alex Chidiac is only 23 years old. She has an international resume that precedes her and a life experience that inspired her to become a passionate advocate and volunteer for women and girls around the world.
The Melbourne Victory midfielder has plied her trade at home for multiple A-League Women's clubs, but also in Spain with powerhouse Atlético Madrid where she became the first-ever Australian to play for the club.
Here, she claimed the Liga Feminina trophy and played in front of a record-breaking crowd of 60,739 against Barcelona at Wanda Metropolitano.
Injury saw her return home where she spent the 2020/21 A-League Women's season with Melbourne City.
Chidiac then joined the Japanese club, JEF United Chiba, to play in the inaugural season of the WE (Women's Empowerment) League in 2021 before heading back to Australia to win the A-League Women's title with Melbourne Victory.
In 2022, she signed with Racing Louisville to play in the NWSL, adding another international league to her CV.
"I’ve always said that I wanted to use football to travel the world," Chidiac said.
"I love immersing myself in different cultures and trying to live like a local as much as I can.
"At Atlético, I was playing alongside some of the best players in the world like Jenni Hermoso. They’re very creative and I love that style of football.
"Japan was very technical, although I was there a short period of time the repetition and focus on first and second touch really helped me refine those key parts of my game."
Playing two very different styles of football and living abroad went a long way in developing Chidiac not only as a player but as a person.
After making her senior national team debut in 2015 when she was 16, Chidiac would earn 17 caps before finding herself on the outside for two years.
"This was a weird time for many reasons. When I didn’t make the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup squad, I was obviously disappointed but I used this time to work on myself outside of football which was very much needed," she explained.
"I had a pretty serious ankle injury on my return to Atlético in pre-season which put me out for a long time and that really stopped any chance of me coming back into the national team."
Chidiac described this period of her life as a turning point where she realised she needed to achieve balance in her life and give back to the community.
"Having football taken away from me when living overseas was really hard as I had nothing else there. Yes, I had very supportive teammates and friends and family back home but I had nothing else to do," Chidiac shared.
"Because of that, I have really worked hard to build a community around me and discover other interests, so it isn’t all football. That’s where my interest in the community space has come in, so I feel like I am part of something bigger than just the team around me."
Through football charity, Common Goal, Chidiac pledges a portion of her salary to help girls and women overcome social obstacles in coastal Kenya through football.
After speaking with one of the young girls in the programme who explained that most women and girls had to stay home during menstruation as they couldn't afford sanitary products, Chidiac was inspired to help.
She designed her own t-shirt, raising funds to provide girls in the programme with reusable sanitary pads to make sure they never had to forego school, football, or achieving their dreams.
Chidiac also started the podcast "The Other Side of 90" to highlight the colour stories around football and the great work that's being done in communities.
"I’d always had this idea for a project called The Other Side of 90," she said.
"I wanted to tell the stories of people in other parts of the game, as it’s only normally the professional game you hear about. Doing more work with Common Goal and other community partners, I realised how much amazing work is being done in this space that is unheard of.
"I thought I could use my platform to allow these incredible organisations to share their work through the voice of someone who has been positively impacted by their work."
While plugging away on her community work, once Chidiac's rehab was completed she had a stellar season with Melbourne Victory and received her first call up to the national team since 2020.
Just like her teenage debut in 2015, she would run onto the pitch against trans-Tasman rivals, New Zealand. She said it felt like the first time all over again and hopes to continue proving herself ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.
"Coming on against New Zealand in Canberra did feel like a second debut for me. I needed that time on the pitch to prove to myself that I can play at that level and not be afraid to be myself. I was just happy to get on the ball and combine with the team as much as possible," she said.
"At the end of the day, I want to enjoy playing football. I want to be at a place where I am confident to be myself and play with the creativity and freedom I enjoy.
"Every player dreams of going to a World Cup and obviously it doesn’t get any bigger than one on home soil, so I am no different to anyone else that will be working hard to try to earn a spot in the squad."
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