Adelaide Olympic midfielder Christos Pounendis is fresh off his Federation Cup final win against Adelaide City.
The 25-year-old has been playing with the seniors for 10 years now and is now captain of the team after years of hard yards.
While his drive and tenacity have definitely been key in bringing him there, Pounendis also credits those closest to him for steering him in the right direction.
“It’s a combination of all the relationships with the people in my family. I couldn’t really pinpoint just one person in my family, they’ve all influenced my in so many different ways. The relationships within my family have been the most important thing in my life and continues to be the most important thing to this day,” he told Neos Kosmos.
At time his family’s direction may not have been as sugar coated as one may have liked, Pounendis knows its all in good faith.
“Before acting on anything, stop, breathe and really think about what the best decision is and to trust those around you. Even if you don’t hear what you want to hear, trust those around you that you know have your best interests at heart,” he said.
Pounendis talks leading the way, keeping up with the fresh blood and his big plans for the future.
What drew you to football?
My uncle, my theio Bill. He played soccer his whole life so when all the cousins were young and playing around, he used to take us out to the park and go kick the soccer ball. I had about four or five older cousins who had already been playing, so I was the little one who would tag along at the end.
So for as long as I could remember I remember playing soccer with them at the park, with my theio Bill playing. Eventually we all played at a club together throughout our juniors. It was nice to have all the cousins playing together whenever we could, as much as we could.
It’s game day, what do you do to get in the zone before the match?
I try to stay as relaxed as possible to be honest. I’m the type of player where I sometime stress myself out, so I try not to. I try and stay as calm as possible and keep my daily routine steady and the same as it is every other day. The only difference is that I like to drink a lot more water so I’m not cramping on the pitch.
In terms of getting motivated I don’t really have any rituals. Once the whistle blows it’s just game on from there, it just comes naturally.
Top three training songs?
I don’t know if I’ve got any training songs to be honest. I like hardstyle, it’s more of an upbeat genre.
What do you find most challenging about the game?
The most challenging thing in our league is that a lot of players are much younger, faster and fitter. Now that I’m getting a little bit older, I’m working a lot more, I’m not as fit or as quick so at the moment I’m adapting my game to suit my body and my fitness levels. That way, I’m still competitive.
That’s what’s most challenging, adapting my game and to use different skills and different parts of the pitch. I’m in that process and it’s slowly picking up now.
What has been a highlight in your sporting career thus far?
Two years ago with Olympic, we won the FFA Cup in South Australia. That was really the biggest highlight I’ve had, winning the Cup against Adelaide City and scoring a goal. That was really, really enjoyable. That then lead to us being able to play on the national stage and get to the round of 16 in the FFA Cup as well.
How has football impacted your life?
It’s impacted it immensely. I was a person where at school I had friends, but I never saw them outside of school. I was always just with the soccer boys. After being at the same club for 10 years, there’s many friends I’ve made.
I know it’s cliché when people say things like ‘the team is a family’, but after 10 years it really is like a family. Being able to walk down the streets of Adelaide and everywhere you go, you always see somebody from soccer. There’s always that mutual relationship you seem to have and people you can talk to and have fun with. It’s really boosted that social side as well.
What is something you learned about yourself through playing the game?
Although I don’t necessarily try, naturally I tend to lead and help others. I spend a lot of my time at trainings or during game days I’m talking to others and helping them out on the pitch, not even consciously, it just happens.
I think that’s come with age and at the club people sort of look at me as that go-to person. I’ve learnt to embrace that I guess and try to find that balance between supporting someone and letting them go. I’ve really been maturing in that sense and trying to support as many people as possible while still focusing on what I need to do.
What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
We’re in the FFA Cup again this year so we’ll be trying to make it as far in that as possible. And then we’ll be training to get into the finals series of winning the league, which is one of the short term ones.
My main goal for this next year would be for this team to stick together and for me to stay fit and healthy so that I can play another year.
What’s something someone might be surprised to learn about you?
One of the biggest surprises is my job outside of soccer. I’m a teacher. I’m always joking around so people don’t often believe that I’m a teacher. I used to teach primary school but now I’m one of the leaders so I work up in the office.
Favourite way to unwind after a game?
I just love to come home, chuck a movie on and sit around with my family…and then eat as much food as I can. I love watching movies, so after a game when I’m really sore I just love going home and kicking my feet up on the couch.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
Just to continue doing what I’m doing I guess. Things at the moment are sort of where I want them to be. I’m buying a house soon, and just hope to slowly progress and maybe become engaged to my girlfriend, but we’ll see what happens.
What is something you want to be remembered by?
I just want to be remembered as someone who was patient and was always there to support someone, never to turn someone away whenever they needed help. Just as someone they’ve been able to go to for support. I guess that’s how I want to be seen as I get older.