With the 2021/2022 FA Women’s Championship season over and Sunderland having secured another year in the second tier of women’s football, it’s time to stop and reflect.
Want to learn more about your favourite footballer or fun facts about some of the lasses biggest stars? Then look no further....
This summer, Roker Report is profiling some of the SAFC Women players by asking them some interesting questions, delving into their stats, and sharing our thoughts on them as both players and as people.
After tearing her ACL in her knee towards the end of 2019, forward Emily Hutchinson worked hard to get back to playing the beautiful game as soon as possible. Dedicating plenty of time to recovering physically and mentally, as well as engaging in various rehabilitation programmes, cycling, boxing, and light jogging - anything to get back to playing as soon as possible.
At the start of 2021, Hutchinson made a return to football and Sunderland Women. She was participating in some pre-season friendlies and staking a claim in Mel Reay’s team prior to the 21/22 FA Women’s Championship season starting, with some impressive goals and performances.
However, just as she was beginning to get back into form and looking forward with anticipation to the season starting, she suffered the major blow of tearing her ACL a second time in the same knee at training.
As it stands, Hutchinson is currently working hard to make a return to Sunderland Women and just underwent successful ACL surgery at the end of March 2022. The rehabilitation process now begins for Emily and we hope to see her back playing in Red & White stripes soon.
We caught up with Hutchinson to ask how she is coping both physically and mentally after the injury, her goals for the future, and what keeps her going.
Roker Report: Hi Emily, thank you for taking time out to speak with us! Obviously, it wasn’t how you would have liked to start your season. What was going through your mind when the injury happened? Did you know it was serious or were you hoping for the best?
Emily Hutchinson: My first ACL rupture I remember we were playing West Brom away and I was running down the wing with the ball. I had been clattered from the side and I heard a loud pop, something that I’d never heard and experienced before, as it was an intense and sharp pain in the knee.
From then, I kind of had the feeling that something wasn’t right. I went for an MRI scan and that confirmed my worst nightmare, an ACL rupture which would mean having to have a full ACL reconstruction. Having previously not known the implications of the injury and how long I would be out, it hit me hard, as I’d never experienced a long term injury.
The second time I ruptured my ACL, I was in training and I went to change direction. It was the feeling of the same sharp and intense pain I felt before and instantly I knew this one was just as serious as before.
It had the same feeling as the first one, which broke my heart, as I knew how hard I had worked and how much effort I put in to get back playing after a year out with my first knee injury and having to do that all again at that point was daunting.
RR: Lots of people tend to focus on the physical side of injuries. But would you say it’s the mental and emotional part that is the most challenging?
EH: I would say it’s a bit of both. Physical because you want to get through each stage of your recovery and push yourself hard. But it’s a long process, which isn’t easy and that’s when mentally and emotionally it can be challenging.
RR: How do you keep yourself motivated and determined to get better? Particularly if you have setbacks or naturally low days
EH: I keep myself motivated by keeping the mindset of “The comeback is always greater than the set back “ and this motivates me because I think whatever happens and how many setbacks, you have you can still strive to achieve your goals as nothing is unachievable.
What also keeps me motivated is the fact I have played for Sunderland since I was 9. I have worked so hard throughout the years to get to where I am now and because I have had setbacks, it doesn’t change anything.
I would not give up, as that’s not my character and also proving to people that I can achieve what I set out to achieve and prove people wrong and that’s what really drives me. I just think of the setbacks as a mental test of your character and how you can deal with the challenge and push through it.
RR: This is your second serious injury. Because you’ve had a similar experience before, do you feel that it helps you as you know what to expect? Or is it disheartening/frustrating as it’s happened again?
EH: Yeah, what helps me with my injury this time is knowing what I have to do in terms of the rehab and the process to getting back to football.
It is really frustrating it’s happened again, but at the same time, you just have to deal with what’s in front of you and face it head-on and try to turn a negative into a positive.
RR: Do you find that you have access to a good variety of support? In terms of from the club, family, friends, etc.
EH: I’m very fortunate and thankful to my family, and the large support network around me for all the support I received and continue to receive through my recovery. I have received several kind messages from the SAFC Women’s fans checking in on me and how I am doing.
I appreciate the support they have given me it means a lot. I’d like to say a special thank you to Mr O’Brien my surgeon and everyone at the Spire who looked after me after my operation, their care was second to none!
RR: Are you a football fan outside of Sunderland Women? Do you enjoy attending games or watching particular teams/leagues etc?
EH: Yeah I support Sunderland! I attend the games when I’m able to get time off work. I just love the atmosphere in the stadium and also the passion for the game in Sunderland.
RR: What are your ambitions now? Do you have to re-evaluate your goals/progress or is simply just taking each day as it comes?
EH: For me personally, my goal has always remained the same and I’m still determined to play at the highest level possible. Nothing will change that.
RR: Have you taken up any other hobbies or interests since your injury?
EH: I haven’t taken up a hobby since my injury as I’m fully focused on my rehab and getting back on the pitch.
RR: Who is a footballer who really inspires you or who you try to emulate?
EH: Danny Ings has really inspired me, as he has been through several injuries including an ACL injury and he has been determined and worked hard to get back to where he is now. Scoring goals and he never gave up.
RR: Is there anything you would like to say? A Message to the fans, words of encouragement for those who have or might suffer setbacks, etc
EH: I’d just say never give up and work as hard as you can. Even if you face set back, keep looking forward and not looking back. My message to fans is thanks for your fantastic messages of support! We have the best fans at SAFC, they really get behind all players. Not just those that play, but those that are injured too. They are incredible
RR: Thank you so much for speaking to us! All of us at Roker Report and the fans I’m sure are wishing you all the best in your recovery and hope to see you back playing for the lasses soon!