Michelle Heyman has been named the most outstanding individual performer of the 2020/21 Westfield W-League campaign, awarded the Julie Dolan Medal at this year’s Dolan Warren Awards.
A triumphant return to the professional league saw Heyman reclaim the title of top goal scorer in the Westfield W-League with 10 goals by the season's end, helping Canberra United secure their first finals spot since 2017.
“It means a lot, coming out of retirement, to be able to put my boots back on and have some fun with Canberra United and to show that I'm still capable of playing,” Heyman said.
“I think it's a big thing for myself but it's just the recognition that you enjoy playing football. You can always succeed and that's always been my motto.
“As long as I'm enjoying it, loving it and smiling, I usually play well and I think that's what we noticed from Canberra United this season.”
Head Coach Vicki Linton was recognised by her peers for her sensational first season of coaching Canberra United, nominated for Coach of the Year, while Jessika Nash was nominated for Young Player of the Year alongside Melbourne Victory’s Kyra Cooney-Cross and Brisbane Roar’s Jamila Rankin.
Named alongside Emily Gielnik (Brisbane Roar) and Kyra Cooney-Cross (Melbourne Victory) for the top gong, Heyman said she was humbled to stand beside such strong athletes.
“It's always an honour to be represented among the best within the Westfield W-League,” she said.
“Both of the other players had their best seasons, especially Kyra. I’m a big fan of hers. I think for a young player she's done so well this season and she's really stepped up into that more mature role on the field.
“It’s the same with Emily, at the beginning of the season she was getting a little bit frustrated. She set high standards for herself and she wasn't scoring as many goals as what she wanted with the number of opportunities she was creating.
“But she then came out to the public about it, she really wanted to shift that mindset. She then became the leading goal scorer.
“To be up against the best in the business, it's always great because I'm good friends with both of them.”
Heyman has now joined Gungahlin United for the 2021 Capital Football NPLW season, saying her decision to remain in the capital was to give back the community that has given her so much.
“I want to be stable and to live in my home here in Canberra. I want to focus on my career off the field as well,” she said.
“There is a lot more of a community here which I love. I’m a big believer in giving back and that's the main reason I wanted to play in the Canberra league.
“I think it's nice to be able to play with players who also come and support Canberra United. I think that's a big thing to help inspire the next generation of players.”
Heyman is also an ambassador for youth football development, recently becoming a Junior Program Officer with Football Australia.
In this role, she hopes to grow the foundations of women's football so one day a child's dream of being a Matilda becomes a reality.
“It’s important so we have a bigger base, that’s something we’re learning about right now with the Matildas,” she said.
“We need to be able to build football within school systems and to make it enjoyable and fun so people can one day become a Matilda.
“It's just to help inspire them to love the game just as much as we all love the game.”