Knott helping the Phoenix deal with the mental health challenges of their maiden season

Chloe Knott has proven herself to be an invaluable member of the Wellington Phoenix women in their inaugural Liberty A-League season, both on and off the pitch.

The versatile midfielder has started all 10 of the Phoenix’s matches to date, the majority in an unfamiliar position up front, and has only been substituted twice.

Knott has also played an important role off the field.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 31: Chloe Knott of Phoenix celebrates a goal during the round nine A-League Women’s match between Perth Glory and Wellington Phoenix at Blacktown Football Park, on January 31, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

The 25-year-old has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Masters of science in developmental psychopathology and is a virtual in-house psychologist for the women in Wollongong.

“I wouldn’t go that far, I’m not qualified yet,” Knott said.

“I’m always there for the girls to chat about their feelings. I like to think that I’m a shoulder they can come and talk to about stuff and get things off their chest.

“I think I just know how to listen. I’ve practiced that a lot…so I really work on my listening and just being there for them. Any kind of venting or just talking about how people are feeling and how they’re managing, I’m happy to do that.”

Knott is passionate about mental health and has been working as a social worker in New Zealand with the aim of becoming a trained psychologist.

“I just think it’s the most important thing that is going on in the world at the moment for young people, for everybody to be honest.

“Lots of people are struggling, especially after the pandemic and all the aftermath of that lots of people I find are struggling with anxiety, depression and lots of mental health issues.

“I think it’s a really big issue, I’m really passionate about. I think everybody can benefit from seeing a mental health professional.”

Living together in a bubble in Wollongong is presenting its own mental health challenges for the Phoenix women.

WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 30: Natalie Tobin of Sydney FC controls the ball under pressure from Chloe Knott of the Phoenix during the round five W-League match between Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC at WIN Stadium, on December 30, 2021, in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

“It’s just such a big football environment here. Especially for the Kiwis the only thing we’re really focusing on is football so the losses and the performances really impact how we’re feeling week to week.

“It’s been hard to bounce back quickly. We’re getting used to coming back in and training really hard the next day after a loss, but it’s been challenging.”

There is good support around the team, but for the majority of the squad it is the first time they have lived away from home.

“It’s just a challenging time to be away from family. A lot of the team is quite young so it’s new experiences for everyone.

“It’s learning to adapt to the football side of things, but also being away from home and all of the challenges that that brings.”

Chloe Knott feels she can relate to what her team-mates are going through, having left New Zealand as a teenager to study at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.

“I moved out when I was 17-and-a-half and I remember my first year away from home was a really challenging one.

“You adapt and you learn to deal with it and you learn how to cope, but this is their first time so they’re going through that now.

“That’s why I can help a little bit because I’ve been there and I can relate to what they’re going through now.

“I got used to it and now I feel like I’m just really enjoying the football side of things here.

“It’s still challenging for me, but I think it’s the added element of your first year away from your family, which has been a big hurdle the girls have been jumping over.”

The Phoenix women have also had their physical challenges adapting to the high press Gemma Lewis wants to play.

“We’ve done a lot of work to be able to be fit enough to press the way we want to press.

“I guess the bodies will be tired after a long season, but I think it’s more mental than anything else.”