Studies and footballs: How former NAB Young Footballer of the Year nominee Princess Ibini juggles her passions

For most people, finishing high school and turning 18 involves studying, parties and relaxation but for NAB Young Footballer of the Year nominee Princess Ibini, her final year of high school has involved anything but. 

The Sydney FC winger and Westfield Matilda had to complete her final exams in China and squeezed a tour of Europe with the national team.

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Ibini starring for Sydney FC in the 2017/18 Season.

It is all in a day's work for the youngster who, in the midst of her Westfield W-League preseason with Sydney FC, travelled to Lebanon with the Young Matildas for the first phase of qualifying for the 2019 AFC U19 Women’s Championship.

Ibini is determined to win the NAB Young Footballer of the Year award after having been previously nominated as the January nominee in the 2015/16 Season.

"We just came back from Lebanon a few weeks ago from pre-qualifiers which we qualified for the next round, which was good," said Ibini.

"I had to do my HSC over in China so it wasn’t the easiest thing to do,  but I managed to get through it. 

"It’ll mean a lot as being the best NAB Young Footballer in the W-League [and] would show that I’ve worked hard for it and everything."

10,000 hours for the youngster

But, like an iceberg, we only see the tip of Ibini's achievements. 

What we fail to see is the hours of hard work, the sacrifices behind the scenes which make Ibini one of the most elite footballers for her age. 

Were Ibini to win the award, she would join a cohort of fine Westfield Matildas including the likes of Kyah Simon, Elise Kellond-Knight and Ellie Carpenter.

"Its been a long journey I’d say," said Ibini. "[It] started when I was young just being in love with the game and always wanted to be playing for my country and playing in the W-League.

"I started training with Sydney FC when I was 12, just training with them and then I got signed with them when I was 15.

"So it kind of started from there, being able to play against women and seeing the high standards I had to be at to be able to play at that fast level." 

Ibini against Melbourne Victory in the Westfield W-League 2018/19 Season.

Maturity beyond her years

So how does one deal with the pressures and workloads of a professional footballer, let alone at such a young age? 

It seems Ibini's humble outlook has been pivotal in keeping herself grounded.

Despite being one of the youngest members of the Westfield Matildas squad, Ibini does not shy away from responsibility.

"[I'm] still a baby compared to everyone else, but there’s a responsibility to help the younger ones that are younger than me to feel comfortable in the team," said Ibini.