The Matildas' catch cry of ‘Never Say Die’ is an attitude both the team and each individual player embodies. Aivi Luik is no exception.
Luik realised she wanted to be a footballer before seven of her Olympic teammates had even been born. As a nine-year-old in Perth watching the men’s FIFA World Cup in 1994, she knew that football was what she wanted to do.
One of her earliest memories of the game is kicking the ball with her brother and mum; her brother decided he would be Pelé and she would be Diego Maradona.
Luik is a player who has grown with women’s football – both in Australia and globally. After high school, with no real options to play the game here, she went away to college.
She enjoyed success with the University of Nevada. The Wolf Pack won the Western Athletic Conference title with captain Luik scoring the game-winning penalty. Outside of football, she finished her time in college with a Bachelor of Science (Geography).
The 36-year-old is arguably one of the most well-travelled Australian footballers ever.
Having spent time in the USA and Canada with FC Indiana and Ottawa Fury, Luik then returned home to the W-League to play for the Queensland Roar.
She earned trophies there alongside current Matildas teammates Elise Kellond-Knight and Tameka Yallop; the trio would carpool from the Gold Coast to Brisbane.
In 2010, she broke into the national team under Tom Sermanni, making her debut against New Zealand. The midfielder played in the team that won the 2010 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
But her national team career – which is now in its 11th year – hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Luik did not make the squad for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, something she says “hit [her] like a truck”. The disappointment of missing out made it difficult for her to watch the tournament.
But through her faith and hard work, Luik continued, with football a constant in her life.
She continued playing year-round as many Australians did, swapping southern hemisphere summers in the W-League for northern hemisphere summers in leagues around Europe.
Luik has plied her trade across the continent from Ukraine to Scandinavia, England to Spain.
She won a title with Brøndby in Norway and played several good seasons with Melbourne City which saw the team in blue win multiple trophies. These performances led to a return to the Matildas setup and hope of helping the team qualify for Rio 2016.
But injuries kept her out of both the Olympic qualifiers and the Olympics.
A testament to her dedication to the game, Luik worked hard to return to fitness and continued helping Melbourne City achieve even more silverware.
In fact, domestically, Luik has picked up 12 trophies across almost two decades of playing. The only things missing from her resume were major tournaments with the national team.
But in 2019, at the age of 34, Luik was able to tick off the FIFA Women’s World Cup, playing against Jamaica in Australia’s 4-0 victory.
In 2020, after missing out in 2016, Luik helped Australia qualify for the Olympics and now, a year on, has made the Tokyo 2020 Olympic squad.
An experienced, versatile head on the park and a caring teammate off it, Luik brings much to this Matildas squad.