With the Tokyo Olympics calling and the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup just over two years away, Matildas’ Caitlin Foord and Mackenzie Arnold could be forgiven for solely focussing on the potential of their football careers. 

Given the opportunities in front of them – and the amount of work required to constantly improve and remain in the national team frame – both players have a massive 24 months ahead of them. As they look to realise their dreams on the pitch, they have set their sights on medalling at the Games and representing the green and gold in front of packed stadiums on home soil in 2023.

However, in the past year, the focus for Foord and Arnold has not necessarily been singular.  Developing as people off the pitch has become equally important for the duo, who recently were recipients of scholarships from the PFA’s Education Partner, Torrens University.

The scholarships have breathed new life and ambition into the duo, with both players finding a passion for studying nutrition and the science behind what fuels their performance. Importantly, it’s given them the chance to reignite their learning through formal education.

Faced with regular lockdowns in London due to the COVID-19 pandemic, study has provided Arsenal’s Foord with plenty of time to pursue a new interest – and allowed her to rediscover education and self-development.


“The course has given me something outside of football and during lockdown and the pandemic it has given me something to do,” Foord told pfa.net.au. “Nutrition has been something I have always been interested in, especially with football as nutrition plays a big role with fuelling before training and games and recovering post games and training. I just wanted to learn and have a better understanding around it.

“The hardest thing for me has been learning how to study again, since I haven’t studied since school. Trying to figure out which way is the best and most effective way for me has been challenging.”

Despite obstacles, Foord’s return to studies has been assisted by Torrens who have helped to build a routine around her daily football commitments and tailored her coursework.

“I’m finding it really convenient; everything is uploaded and accessible whenever suits me. Because of the time difference I am unable to watch the live classes but because everything is recorded, which allows me to catch up and watch in my own time.”

For Arnold, the online flexibility has also provided the perfect platform to reengage with study.

“I’m really enjoying the course which is really reassuring to me. I thought I would struggle going back to studies but so far so good. Studying online has its challenges but it has been a lot smoother than I thought. The lecturers are also always wanting to help whenever possible as well as a bunch of online courses you can sit through to help with certain areas of your learning. They’re also aware of my commitments outside of Uni and are very flexible and understanding if I need more time or more support on certain areas.”


Both players have had the opportunity for additional Zoom calls with their lecturers, have been granted extensions when games and tournaments clash with assignments and have the benefit of a 24/7 website, which has provided support, alongside the PFA’s Player Development Program team.

“The PFA are always available for any support we need regarding any topic on or off the field,” Arnold said. “It helps knowing that if we’re struggling with Uni work or falling behind, it’s so easy to reach out and get the support you need to get back on top of it.”

As elite athletes building football careers on the world stage, having support close at hand through Torrens and the PFA has helped Foord and Arnold – and countless other Australian footballers – not only focus on what is on the horizon in football, but has allowed them to make steps to prepare for what comes after major tournaments, like the World Cup, have been played.

“I think it’s so important to have some sort of foundation for your life after football. I think it gives you a sense of security and purpose and allows you a smoother transition once that decision is made,” Arnold said.

“I would like to continue my football for as long as I can and reach the top of my game both at club and international level, but off the field I would love to have my own business within the football and nutrition industry.”

For Foord, the realisation that football is not for forever has shifted her focus to utilising her time now to plan ahead.

“I have actually only started to think that recently… I guess it’s because I’m getting older… I’ve started to think and try to imagine what I could see myself doing post football. That’s the hardest thing to find that interest.

“Now is perfect time to start preparing for a career after football while I am still playing.”

The PFA Player Development Program Manager and former W-League player Rita Mankowska said it had been enjoyable supporting both Foord and Arnold, who also supported one other throughout the journey studying together.

“It was great to work with both Caitlin and Mackenzie and find a course that matched their individual interests and needs as international footballers,” Mankowska said.

“We quickly figured out that they both shared a passion for nutrition, and liked the idea of a one-year Diploma as neither player had studied since high-school, and wanted to ease their way back into formal education. The Torrens Diploma of Nutrition stood out as an obvious choice, as 100% of their courses were fully online and suitable to athletes with varying training and playing commitments.

“Once the pair decided that they both wanted to study at Torrens, they each decided to apply for a PFA Torrens University Tuition Scholarship, and impressed the judging panel with their respective applications. Both Caitlin and Mackenzie have since received a Distinction for their first two subjects and are enjoying the course work. I’m really pleased that the PFA played a small part in assisting both Caitlin and Macca with their off-field development and it’s great to see them excelling both on and off the pitch.”

The PFA is committed to ensuring the holistic development of members in all aspects of their lives via continued learning. To support players, the PFA assists members to pursue both formal and informal study via education grants, education partnerships with leading institutions, including Torrens University, advice and assistance and scholarships. Find out more about the PFA membership benefits here.