Professional footballers Paige Hayward and Emily Condon have been helping athletes off the field with their respective businesses –  Fuel Your Active Life and EC Advantage.

Despite being opponents on the pitch, the duo have reunited to combine their expertise in nutrition and exercise science. The Central Coast Mariners midfielder and Adelaide United defender caught up with the PFA to chat about their businesses.

At the end of the 2022-23 season, Paige Hayward and Emily Condon’s time as teammates on the field came to an end. Hayward had signed with new A-League Women’s expansion side Central Coast Mariners, after two seasons playing alongside Condon at Adelaide United.

However, despite no longer taking the pitch together, Hayward and Condon could still link up as teammates off the field. The duo joined forces and put their expertise together in nutrition and fitness to help others reach their full potential.

Hayward is a qualified dietician, who launched Fuel Your Active Life in 2023, and in the process, collaborated with Condon, who is a personal trainer and skills coach who had established her own business, EC Advantage.

“Paige and I started working together probably about a year ago. I was running an online business for strength skills coaching for female footballers and I was just looking for that extra edge, or that extra thing that could help female players take their game to the next level and I think that’s where the nutrition part comes into it,” Condon told the PFA.

“Instead of me trying to learn the nutrition or the dietician side of the game… I decided to bring Paige onboard.

“It was kind of working together but also doing our own separate thing at the same time for female footballers through conditioning and nutrition.”

Hayward added: “I had seen what [Emily] had been doing with female footballers and I loved it.

“Some days we’d sit down at a coffee shop, talk about what we wanted to achieve and how we could really enable young female athletes take their soccer to the next level and I think that’s what we’ve really built around, we want to make them better and really explore who they are.

“Whether that’s through football, adding strength and conditioning, which Em does, or even their nutrition, because there’s not a lot of very specific stuff out there [and] people get so confused.

“There’s a lot of body issues and expectations that [people] put on themselves and I think coming from us is sort of like: ‘we’ve been there. We’ve seen it’.”

The two have been working hand in hand for almost a year now, and started formulating a long-term program for clients. Their expertise helps them tailor programs to individual needs and combine both nutrition and exercise science.

“We are running a program together, which is a 12 week program,” Hayward said.

“Em does the strength and conditioning, and I do the nutrition. For me it’s a meeting once a week, and really keeping them involved in understanding why there are certain foods you eat before a game, after a game, keeping yourself hydrated. They are little things that sort of slip through the gaps but once you become professional, and everyone’s had a level playing field, they take your game to the next level.”

With their businesses online, it helps the pair reach a variety of different people from different parts of Australia and New Zealand.

“[Being online] does make it so much easier to reach and connect with these players, which is awesome,” Condon said.

“We’ve just been able to reach a lot more local players who are interested, especially players living in country towns, which is something I can relate to growing up… and we just don’t have access to the coaching or the resources or the knowledge that sometimes the players in the city get access to.”

“The thing we’ve noticed that’s missing in the women’s game… is just getting that specific coaching, whether it’s through strength or movement or skills or their nutrition.

“Obviously, having something tailored to the individual is something we prioritise because it’s just general programs from anywhere so we’d love to connect with our future clients and get to know them on a personal level and how we can best serve them.”

With both players involved in a 35-week season in the A-League, balancing football and work commitments can be a particularly challenging task, but one that provides an outlet outside of football.

“Having something else outside of playing the sport was something that I had taken into consideration,” Condon said.

“That’s where the whole business idea came from. Ideally we want to be full time and be professional athletes. But obviously that’s not the case at the moment.

“Hopefully in the future it might be, but I think having that outlet, something outside of sport, something that’s flexible, and that we’re in control of. This allows us to have that that freedom of when to work and how we want to work which was something that I was really interested in.

“That’s what led me to opening up the business and running it the way I do, but obviously having something outside of sport is actually a good thing and I think that’s something that I teach and I talk to my clients about personally about what do you want to do after school? Yes, you want to be a professional athlete, but what else do you want to invest your time into. Sport is not a forever thing.”