Sam Kerr is familiar with the exhilaration winning brings.
She’s experienced it on three continents playing for clubs like Western New York Flash, Sydney FC, Perth Glory and now, for a second time, with Chelsea in England.
But such is the relentlessness of modern day sport, the celebrations cannot subside fast enough as the next mission approaches like a steady stream of enemy frigates rolling over the horizon to find their target.
“It’s a funny thing, everyone just sees the 90 minutes,” Kerr says as the partying after a second Women’s Super League title makes way for the challenge of Monday’s UEFA Champions League final against Barcelona.
“They think ‘oh it’s so great’.
“But it is a long and hard journey.”
It is a journey without a destination, just a series of checkpoints.
From the Champions League it will be into camp with the Australian team Kerr captains, the Matildas, as they prepare for the Olympics in Tokyo.
Soon after that, the 2021-22 WSL season will be leading straight into more national duties at the 2022 AFC Asian Cup.
Sandwiched between that and what will most likely be the most important tournament of Kerr’s sporting life, the 2023 FIFA World Cup, will be another club season.
Asked by The Ticket whether it was possible to climb Mount Everest and still enjoy it, Kerr laughs.
“Yeah, I think so,” she says.
“The season’s been so long and there’s been so many ups and downs.
But as tens of thousands of Australians can attest, coming home is not an option in a COVID-19 world where the borders remain shut except for those few who have been granted exemptions, prompting Foreign Policy magazine to describe Australia as “the new hermit kingdom”.
Kerr hasn’t been home for 18 months.
The borders aren’t expected to be open until well into 2022.
If there’s any further delay, Kerr might have to rely on a special exemption just to be able to compete in a “home” World Cup.
Originally the Matildas were supposed to prepare for July’s Tokyo Olympics in Australia which would require a number of players, like the overseas-based Kerr, to fly home and head into two weeks of quarantine before being able to play.
That’s a two-week window the players can’t afford to lose.
Negotiations are continuing with the Australian government but it’s likely the team will congregate in Europe instead.
“I don’t know what we’re doing, honestly,” Kerr says.
“We have a camp in June, it’s all up in the air at the moment.
“The government in Australia is really strict and we’re not sure if we’re going to be allowed in.
“We’re just trying to figure out what’s the best option for us as a team to prepare for the Olympics.”
Her frustration is clear, but at the root of it, she just misses home.
“It’s just home, it’s just that feeling of, you know, being in your own space and the coffee and my family and my dog.”
The dog is Billie, a seven-year-old female boxer.
“I haven’t seen my dog in like over a year,” she says.
“I mean you can FaceTime your family but, you know, I can’t FaceTime my dog and say I am coming home soon, or you know, there’s a pandemic going on that’s why I’m not there.
“She probably thinks I’m just neglecting her, so it’s just the little things to be honest.
“I’m missing my family, it’s cold, it’s hard.
“But winning titles and winning things like [the WSL Championship] just make it all worth it.
“It’s not all roses and butterflies, for sure, but at the end of the day I do it because I love it and there are hard days but … yeah, I do enjoy it … for the most part.”