Western Sydney Wanderers men’s team physio Jocelyne Francken spoke to Our Game about her role at the club, being one of few women involved in the men’s side, and her love of football.
As an assistant physiotherapist, her job involves helping things run smoothly on gameday and conducting appointments throughout the week. She helps with long-term rehabilitation of players and making sure that they’re doing everything they can to be back on the pitch as soon as possible.
“Honestly, my experience I feel hasn’t been different being female. There’s no reason why we [women] can’t do it,” she explained.
“In terms of physio stuff, I’ve been treated exactly the same. I’ve been given a fantastic opportunity and I have great mentors. I think as a person I’ve brought something that they’ve wanted to keep around.”
Francken was drawn to physiotherapy after a sports career that included representing Australia in Olympic weightlifting. Her most memorable experience was going to Turkmenistan to compete at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
As an elite athlete, she feels that she can relate to what the players that she is treating are going through.
“If somebody’s injured it is just discipline to keep going, exercises are tedious, it’s frustrating. I can relate in that sense,” she said.
“Working with elite athletes and pushing the body – I love it, I find it exciting, I’m passionate about learning in this environment. I think that’s really helped me… that knowledge of my sport and strength and power in the gym was an asset to have.”
She also competes in football for her local club Turramurra United in the Northern Suburbs Football Association (NSFA) Premier League. She came to football later in life, but once she signed up at 18 her love for the sport has grown every season. It no doubt helps to play in a team that were the 2022 champions!
“Working in football has been one thing, playing has been another! I play socially, I love it, it’s fun, there’s no pressure,” she explained.
“I would say I’m somewhat competent with the ball at my feet, which helps with physio!”
Like many Australians, she is excited about what the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 might bring. She got to witness first hand the potential of women’s football when working with the Wanderers academy last season.
“We have one female, her name’s Talia [Younis] in the academy. She just brings it! She’s such a little gun, 14 or 15. I just see her playing with all these boys around her, she’s amazing,” Francken said.
“She’s in and out with senior team now, and has international opportunities. This one girl has been inspiring, I love to see it, and I’d love to see more of that. She’s a little guiding light, she’s so young… for me she’s been a representation of what could be. She holds her own, she’s fantastic.”
“Those pathways are becoming more common and more prevalent. I’m excited to see more and more girls [in the academy] – as the depth grows and the talent grows”
It’s players like Younis that are helping to change the mentality not only of players but also of backroom staff as well.
“There’s more opportunities happening, more funding happening, men’s working very closely with the women’s side,” she said.
“I hear a lot of men’s coaches working with the women’s side – it’s kind of opening their eyes a little bit as well. Seeing the women’s side grow will become a norm. Hopefully it will be seen more highly and more respected as it grows. I’m excited.
“I hope to see football in Australia grow in popularity, particularly off the back of hosting the next World Cup.”
For Francken, so new in the world of physiotherapy, the world is her oyster.
“Football will always be in my life one way or another,” she answered, when asked about her future career goals, “but you never know what the future holds.”
“At the root of everything as a physio is that you want to help people. So I’ll just see where my career takes me!”