When did you start playing football and what drew you to the sport?
I started playing football when I was 6 years old in the school play ground with all the boys and my parents signed me up to my first club when I turned 7
What has been the highlight of your football career so far?
The highlight of my career has definitely been representing my country at the Olympic Games. It was truly a dream come true, and something I'll never forget.
What is the mindset of a goalkeeper, and it takes to succeed at what is probably one of the most mentally taxing positions of any sport?
I think they key to goalkeeping is trying to stay relaxed as much as you can, especially in games. Although concentration is also key, I think staying relaxed in high pressure situations is what allows you to pull off great saves.
What inspired you to be the last line of defence over a goal scorer or midfielder?
I decided to be a goalkeeper when I was about 15 years old, the team I was playing for at the time desperately needed one so when I put my hand up I really enjoyed it and never looked back.
A goalkeeper is a positions so many people are quick to criticise when something goes wrong and slow to applaud when they do something right. Do you think you have an extra edge as an athlete and person because of the constant pressure in your position?
I don't really tend to concentrate to much on what other people think of my game. I'm usually pretty hard on myself if I know I've had a poor game so I tend to stay off social media if that's the case. I guess over time it's allowed me to become a more positive athlete/person and helps me understand the highs and lows of sport.
Have you ever been cut from a team or missed out on a selection at a junior or professional level?
I was cut from my first ever under 17s Australian Camp. Everything had happened for me extremely quick up until then so when I got my first call up, I had no idea what to expect or how to act in a professional environment which definitely took a toll on my attitude. I had to learn very quick what had to change to get to the next level
What was your mindset when that occurred and how did you persevere to become the successful player you are today?
My mindset was still pretty chilled out at the time, it sort of took me seeing pictures and updates from my friends speaking out about how it feels to be representing their country at something they love that made something really click in my head. That this was exactly what I wanted to be doing. Physically and mentally, a lot of things had to change in a short amount of time.
I now realise that a willing/postive attitude in sport becomes 70% of your performance.
What was the feeling going into RIO in 2016, and what were your goals for the team and as an individual, did you change your usual mindset to prepare for something with that kind of scale and importance or did you stay with your usual routines?
We headed over to Brazil 4 weeks in advance to our first game of the Olympics so our mindset did have to change dramatically. It's hard living with a team of girls for two weeks, let alone 4. We're all a really tight knit group but I think there's always something someone can pick at. So we had to adjust to trying to balance out our team life but being able to have some time to ourselves as well.
The training within those 4 weeks were exactly what we needed though, it gave us time to adjust to the climate changes and allowed us to work on our style of play in certain conditions.
Obviously it was extremely tough going down to Brazil in RIO in the way that the team did. When you experience a situation such as that as all athletes do what is your thought process for continuing on?
Going into the Olympics, our goal was obviously to win a gold medal and we truly believed that we were capable of doing that so when we went the way we did, it really hit us hard, as it would with any team. I think the one thing about the Matildas is that we never give up. There's always a fight within us to keep going, whether it's losing a game or getting knocked out of a tournament, we're always able to bounce back and look forward to the next challenge. I think that's one of the best things to have within a team.
Often there are so many people behind the scenes we never hear about. What sort of influence has that behind the scenes coaching had on helping you achieve everything you have?
I've had a lot of different influences on my career. Starting with both of my parents and my older brother, always supporting me but also giving me feedback when I need it.
My first Queensland Academy of Sport coach, Jeff Hopkins. He was the first coach that I feel truly had belief in me and never gave up on my potential.
And then my Australian goalkeeping coach, Paul Jones. He's been my main coach all through being cut from 17s camp, and still going at the present. He was the one that really pulled me into line and taught me the lessons I need to learn in such a short amount of time in both my on field and off field performances. I owe a lot to him.
Have you had any influential coaches, role models or mentors throughout your football career whose words or actions have stuck with you when your standing between the posts in crunch time?
I don't have any quotes or sayings that I really hold onto but I just try and think about all the pre games talks that we have and what style of play we're using to help with my concentration. If I start to think about to much, I end up not focusing on the game and freak myself out.
What’s next for Mackenzie Arnold in her football career?
This year is sort of a down year for the Matildas until later on. I've just finished up my season with the Brisbane Roar and will head into camp with the Matildas on the 15th of February to hopefully earn my spot on the team list for a trip to Portugal for the Algarve Cup. After that, I'll keep training, week in, week out to try and earn myself a place to the next World Cup in France 2018. That's my goal for now.
For the aspiring goalkeepers and junior football players out there (especially those playing on the defensive side of the court) do you have any advice, words of wisdom on what it takes to make it to the professional level and represent your country at an Olympic games?
The only advice I would really have is that it takes a lot of hard work. I know that might seem a bit obvious but hard work gets you a long way. If you're willing to do it all, including doing extras pre and post training, eating properly, keeping a positive mindset, you'll tend to find everything falls into place around you. But it's not easy, when you get knocked back, you need to be willing to get back up.