Jenna McCormick's latest move has a distinct Adelaide United flavour to it, with the defender playing for AGF Fodbold in the Danish Elitedivisionen.
When asked how her move to Denmark came about, McCormick explained it was former Adelaide United teammate-turned AGF Fodbold head coach, Katrine Pedersen who initiated the deal.
“The head coach here at AGF was actually an international player for Adelaide United in 2014 when I was playing there also," McCormick explained.
"She began her coaching career doing some work with the Danish national team and is now the head coach at AGF. She got in touch and asked if I would consider playing for AGF and now here I am."
'Here,' is Aarhus, a town on the Eastern coast of Denmark. After spending most of 2021 in Melbourne – first with Melbourne City in the W-League and then briefly with South Melbourne in the Victorian NPLW – McCormick has once again joined the dozens of Australians playing in Europe.
“Settling in has been an absolute breeze," McCormick said of her move to Denmark.
"The people here are so lovely and welcoming, it’s made it a really easy transition which I’m really grateful for.
“I haven’t explored much outside of Aarhus where I live, but the city is really nice here" she continued.
"Luckily for me, the restrictions of COVID are almost non-existent. The high vaccination rates have allowed Denmark to re-open the city and it’s just buzzing which is so nice to be around. I hope Australia can get to that point too, sooner rather than later.”
AGF is sitting mid-table with McCormick turning out for the last three league games. The team has secured a win, a draw, and a loss.
While results are obviously important to McCormick, getting to a place where she is happy, playing consistently, and enjoying her football is higher up her priority list.
“To be honest, I just want to be happy again and enjoy playing football. But of course, I would love to achieve some success in the league and cup with this group," she shared.
"We have really good team spirit and are always up for a fight so it would be nice to achieve that kind of success together as a group.”
The desire for enjoyment comes after a rocky last year. Much like her fellow Commonwealth Bank Matildas, she made the move abroad in mid-2020, landing in Spain to join up with Real Betis. The move didn’t go according to plan.
“The last 12 months have been pretty tough if I’m honest,” McCormick admitted.
“I thought my move to Spain would really help me in settling into consistent minutes against good quality players week in week and week out. Coupled with my preparations leading up to the Olympics not working out, I found myself having to re-build mentally from scratch.
“It was a place where I have never been before and didn’t realise how much it actually affected me. Right now to this day, over a year on, I still feel like I am only just, getting back to a place where I can focus and be at my best.
McCormick knows all too well that highs and lows are all part and parcel of the beautiful game and she's grateful for both ends of the spectrum
“The highs are so great in sport but the lows are tough and I’m lucky to have a great support network around me to help me get through it all," she said.
"But I also look at it as though I'm lucky to experience life like this. I learn so much about myself every day, who I want to be and the people I want to surround myself with and it’s just invaluable experience that only few are able to go through.”
Part of that support network is her family back home in Australia. While technology keeps her connected, nothing beats being able to play and be close to her family.
“It’s very tough, obviously in an ideal world we would love to have the Australian league as the best league in the world to be able to play and be close to family – it would be the best of both worlds," she said.
"I’m super close with my family and would love to be around them more, but in the world we’re in today, plus wanting to be playing football all year round, I know it’s not the reality.
“I’m a very independent person and I can get by on my own, but there’s nothing like the comfort of family being around you and there are days where I am really homesick and want to be back with them.”
For now though, McCormick is building another support network and getting to know her teammates who have made her move so much more enjoyable. Part of that is trying to learn Danish.
“Danish is hard man," she said. But, I am taking classes and trying my best to get the hang of it.”
“I’m lucky enough here that 99% of people speak English so there are no language barriers which has really enriched my experience as well. It’s nice to get to know people on a deeper level which makes you feel more comfortable as well.”
As for what's next, McCormick isn’t looking too far ahead. The focus is more on regaining enjoyment and allowing that to take its natural course.
“At the top of my list is just to be back playing my best football and enjoying it. I hope a by-product of that will be selection back into the national team, as representing Australia truly is the greatest honour and I want to be back in that environment.
“I’m hoping my experience at AGF will bring out the best in what I know I can give. The environment so far is doing that, and it excites me knowing we still have so much of the season ahead of us for me to continue to build on that.”