Lisa-Marie Woods interview: The meaning behind the melody for Norwegian international

Photo: Chris Kelly
Photo: Chris Kelly

One of the most forthright and passionate female footballers in the game today, Norway international midfielder Lisa-Marie Woods is captivated by music and it also helped her and the rest of the W-League’s Adelaide United team to leave their mark on their coach this season.

Aside from playing for her country, Lisa has been on quite the journey through her career, representing teams in six different nations before she has even reached 30! The life of any female player can certainly be characterised by a lack of stability and a need to make some bold decisions. What is abundantly clear from the moment Lisa begins to speak is the fire she has and the values that she believes in.

The Westfield W-League is awaiting its Grand Final match-up between Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar this coming Sunday. Of the eight teams that battled it out during the regular season and the four in the subsequent play-offs, only two remain. Adelaide United finished 6th in the table and although she has previously played for Perth Glory, Lisa brought her considerable overseas experience to the squad.

The Lady Reds are coached by former Australia midfielder and brother of ex-Socceroos striker John, Ross Aloisi. Lisa explains how she and her teammates have ensured they will be difficult to forget for Aloisi!

“This season’s game songs have been ‘Roar’ (by) Katy Perry and ‘Wrecking Ball’ (Miley Cyrus). They have been played to the point that our coach Ross Aloisi thinks of us every time they are played on the radio!
“That was our goal!”

Lisa describes the two sides that make up who she is – the athlete and the private person. As a player, she craves that spark to send her out onto the field feeling ready for the task ahead. When she steps away from the pitch it is a case of pursuing those moments of happiness and good feeling. Whichever the situation, she calls upon the fitting sounds to help her tune into the desired frame of mind.

“Music is so important to me. It is a means of motivation, relaxation and a mood-setter in life.
“I am one who likes to sing a lot so I appreciate good, meaningful lyrics and songs you can sing along to, or at least think that you can sing along to!”

Although born in Norway, Lisa’s father comes from Scotland and she would get to visit family members in his homeland in the summers as she was growing up. Despite what one or two might have wondered, she is not named after Elvis and Priscilla’s daughter Lisa Marie Presley! However, she does have a strong love for someone who was once married to ‘the other Lisa-Marie’ (without the hyphen!).

“My all-time favourite artist is Michael Jackson. You put on any of his songs and I feel like I want to dance – what a legend.
“I listen to all sorts of genres but heavy metal is not highly rated, even though there are some good songs in this genre also. I like different music for different settings.
“Sometimes I just get blown away by the quality of the voice of an artist. Other artists I enjoy listening to are: Adele, Eminem, Ben Howard, Pink, Nate Ruess and Justin Timberlake.”

Lisa was once the captain for Norway in the UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship and a few years prior to this, in the late 90s, she was indulging in the quintessential pop music of that time.

“(My first CDs) must have been albums from Backstreet Boys or Spice Girls as they were the ‘in’ bands back then. I must have been around 13-14 when I started buying CDs.”

Some years later, that pop preference reared its head again for the former Oakland University player. She played for a number of teams in the Norwegian top flight (Toppserien) including Stabæk, Kolbotn and LSK Kvinner. There was also her time with Asker and this gave her the opportunity to show off her vocal talents for her teammates. She also tried the same with Adelaide United and her teen pop rendition was not too well received in her opinion!

“Every new player of the Lady Reds had to sing a song when they came to the club. I chose Britney Spears ‘Baby One More Time’…they stopped me after the first line!

 

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“In particular, I remember a trip to Denmark with my team at the time Asker FK where we had a ‘team idol’ going on. I was to sing Phil Collins ‘Against All Odds’.
“I don’t think I was rated very highly at that point. I remember barely having any voice and more trying to act out the song than actually singing it.
“It was good for laughs at least!”

When Lisa won the Toppserien with Stabæk she was also given the accolade of ‘Kniksen-prisen’ as the league’s best player. However, as with the ‘team idol’ competition it was the memories of Asker that came flooding back when she thought of the best singers she has ever played on the same team as.

“We had the sisters, Elle Marja and Anne Maddji Haetta who were both great singers. We would all sing a lot at that time but listening to them gave us goosebumps.
“Anne Maddji went on to give out some albums that you can check out on MySpace.”

As anyone who is part of the women’s football community knows, there are certain stories that break which do not receive the greatest of attention from those outside of these circles. You would be hard pushed to find a devoted follower of the female game who is not aware by now of the case that Lisa brought to light at the beginning of this year involving her close friend and veteran of almost 100 Norway caps.

Naturally, the story spread to the wider media in Norway and although we could delve so much further into the issue on here it is fair to say that Lisa’s role in exposing it is indicative of her persona. She is fiercely loyal and extremely true to what she believes is fair and honourable.

The ex- Fortuna Hjørring and Turbine Potsdam player brought up the person at the centre of the story when asked which of her career teammates she would record a song with. This is a great example of music acting as a lead-in to something much deeper.

“Right now the answer would have to be Leni Larsen Kaurin and the song ‘That’s What Friends Are For’. Throughout your career you learn to love some of your teammates, not only as a teammate but also a friend.
“A true friend does not come by often in this game. It is more often than not that you connect with players when you are in a setting with them, but once you are out of sight you are also out of mind.
“It is almost like you become a part of a cult and you truly believe that you are like a family, but once the cult is divided so is the sense of belonging. You cannot be a true friend to everyone you play alongside so when you find that true connection, hold on to it!
“Leni is one of those people I started playing with as a young hopeful at 15 and we have been friends ever since. Unfortunately, Leni just recently learned the lesson of the true character of the player/friend/teammate relation and how loyalty of some people is non-existent when you might need it the most.
“This would therefore be a good time to remind her to let go of the fake relations and hold on to the true ones.”

A sizeable amount of Lisa’s career has been spent in the US, with FC Indiana and the Boston Breakers among her ex-clubs. She was also a star for the Blue Raiders at Middle Tennessee State University and while in Canada with Ottawa Fury she was named MVP and won the USL W-League.

When she touched down in Australia to join up with the W-League’s Lady Reds, Adelaide United, she was no stranger to the country having previously turned out for Perth Glory. The Lady Reds took 13 points from 12 games this season to finish 6th in the regular standings and it was the club’s most successful campaign yet.

 

Photo: Chris Kelly
Photo: Chris Kelly

 

Everyone involved, from the supporters to the players, has spoken of the amazing journey of the team this season. 19-year-old Jenna McCormick won the Player of the Year award after a switch to centre-back and Emily Condon became the W-League’s youngest ever goalscorer at 15 when netting against Western Sydney Wanderers.

Lisa scored the opener in the 2-0 victory over regular season winners Canberra United and Adelaide’s other scorer was Racheal Quigley who was interviewed on here last season while with the Kansas City Shock. Also part of the Lady Reds team is goalkeeper and Australian national team legend Melissa Barbieri – also someone to have featured on this site.

Attractive surroundings together with a strong team dynamic makes an irresistible combination and because of that Lisa could only go one way with her assessment of her Aussie adventure.

“I have lived in Adelaide and have absolutely loved my experience. The place is amazing with its many beaches, great people and nice weather.
“I could not have asked for more out of this experience.”

 

 

Of course it is difficult to ask a player at the beginning of their career about what the sport has provided them with in terms of authentic life lessons. However, Lisa is like recent interviewee, Arsenal Ladies and England defender Alex Scott, in that she has seen women’s football rise from the doldrums to become what it is today and this is while she still has years left to play.

She offers her feelings on how her career and those she has shared it with have helped her to grow beyond football.

“Oh wow – this is a deep question. I will claim that 100 per cent of my life lessons are learnt through this game and the relations that have come with it.
“I have learned what I stand for as a player and as a person. I have been so lucky to have played with some amazing footballers that are also great role models and solid people all the way through.
“Coming across the opposite has also taught me to be a genuine person. Stay true to your character and hold yourself to a high standard.
“Thanks to some of these great people I have looked up to I fear very little as I dare to speak up for what is right. You see so many people who follow the stream and even cowardly hide when they should speak up due to the fear of consequences they might face.
“One part of me understands that predicament but I have learned that I do not want to be that person. My ambitions in this game that is my life is to help others to fulfil their dreams in any way I can.
“Coaching is a big part of this but also helping in the development of the game so it grows in the direction we want it to.”

The relentless will to win that has spurred Lisa on to her various successes is one of her integral characteristics. As is clear to see, she also yearns for integrity and sincerity in others and that is the theme she sticks to as we conclude.

Selecting from the best players she has ever had the privilege of working with, Lisa was asked to choose four of her career teammates to join her in a 5-a-side line-up. The midfielder in her team played in two World Cups and a European Championship for Norway before retiring from the sport in 2012 to focus on a law career.

Here is Lisa to talk us through her team selection.

“My five players are all strong leader-types who dare to speak up for the game and the players. They do not settle for less, regardless of the consequences they might face.

“Goalkeeper – Astrid Johannessen . A true professional and genuinely a solid person.

“Defender – Katrine Pedersen. Solid footballer and a true captain who takes care of everyone around her.

“Midfielder – Lise Klaveness. I do not even know where to begin with Lise.
“I have been so lucky to have had her as a mentor in my playing career. If I should bring anyone into war it would be her.
“A person you can trust 100 per cent for having your back and someone who is genuinely a good person. Her character is strong and she is one of those people who sacrifices herself for the good of others.
“As a footballer she was a driven professional with a pure love for the game.

“Forward – Maiken Pape. Gives 100 per cent all the time – a true fighter!”

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