Can Too Ambassador AFL Player Nicola Barr’s ABCs on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle

21 Aug 2020

The Can Too Foundation is pleased to welcome GWS GIANT AFL Player Nicola Barr as our newest Ambassador. Nicola shares her tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle: 

A. Do things that make you happy.

If you find something that you love, do it every day. It’s important to maintain balance to get exercise and sunlight. We’re so lucky to have so much sunlight in Australia. If you find something that you love doing and get to do that everyday that’s important for balance and mental wellbeing.

 B. Jump into sport or training if you are thinking about doing it.

 I’ve always done that since I was a kid and that’s how I’ve always had the most fun and made all my friends. I moved around the world when I was younger so for me sport and training is a way to get a great community around you and build a lot of support. If you start, you’ll get fitter and meet like-minded people.

C. Do your recovery.

For me recovery is not just important physically but also mentally. If I’ve played a game or done a long run I love getting in the ocean, in the salt water, physically I feel better and mentally it helps me to freshen up and feel relaxed.

 Also remember to stretch. In football you need to stretch out your hip flexors, glutes and hamstrings so I’ll find stretches I want to target and hold them for 2 to 3 minutes 2 times a week. You can make time to do stretches such as when you have a night in or are waiting for your dinner to cook.

D. Listen to your body.

Especially in the off season, I like to do what my body feels like at the time if I wake up and feel like cycling or stretching I’ll do that. It’s important to listen to your body and make sure you’re not doing an exercise that isn’t right for you at the time.

Spotlight on Can Too Ambassador Nicola Barr


Why did you decide to become a Can Too Ambassador?

I’ve always been a lover of sport, one of my passions is to encourage people to get involved in sport not only to stay physically fit but also for their mental wellbeing. Can Too provide an opportunity especially for people who may not be very versed in sport to train with high level coaches and to raise money for cancer research. I love that Can Too is providing support for people to get fit, balance their wellbeing and raise important funds for cancer research.

 Why did you choose Can Too as a charity to support?

Having a medical science background from my uni studies has encouraged my decision and given me the knowledge of the importance of cancer research. It’s such a difficult illness to treat and cancer affects a lot of different people. I know how important it is to make sure we have funds for research.

What sports did you play as a junior?

 I grew up overseas playing different sports including soccer, basketball, netball, tennis, running, cross country, touch football and badminton. I lived in seven countries: Singapore, America, Ireland, Dubai and Malaysia, so sport growing up was a great way to make friends and create a sense of belonging. Sport was an anchor for me.

What led you to become an AFL player?

In year 10 at school our director of sport set up a footy team for women’s competition and I’ve never looked back. I could use skills I learnt growing up and loved AFL’s team camaraderie to bring people together from diverse backgrounds.

 Who is your sport hero?

Ellyse Perry, I wanted to be her for a long time.

She came to speak at my school and spoke so well. I admire her as a great role model for girls showing you can do what you want to like she has, she’s played two sports professionally.

What challenges have you had to overcome to be a professional AFL Player? 

One of the main challenges as a female athlete is not earning enough money to make it a full-time career. Finding that career balance is something I’ve struggled with, especially joining the sport at a professional level when I was still studying. I could study and play, but the challenge is now trying to work out my next career move. That’s been tough as you can’t say to an employer, I’m available for six months then I need a lot of flexibility as I have to travel and train.

AFL position: Wing

What keeps you motivated?

I like setting goals and love a challenge which keeps me motivated to train everyday. A huge motivator is mental wellbeing and having different things in your life that keeps it interesting and having a healthy lifestyle.

What career would you like to pursue after AFL?

Commentating, coaching, sports management and business, growing the AFL game overseas.  

Day job:  Working at Lululemon and coaching AFL

What’s most rewarding about coaching?

Seeing others learning new skills, grow and develop, have fun and love the game.

Lives: Manly

Favourite AFL moment?

Our first team win at Blacktown with the GWS GIANTS in our first year – 2017.

 Favourite book:  Tuesdays with Morrie

Favourite thing to do:

Running in a new city. I’ll wake up and spend the morning running around the new city. It’s great way to see a new place and do some exercise. One of my favorites was Vieste in Puglia, Italy.

What I eat pre-match:

Three hours before a match I’ll eat a sandwich and in the lead up lollies and a Gatorade. I eat more the day before so I can store the carbs that day such as pasta and noodles.

Go to meal post-match:

 Post-match is my favourite you can basically eat whatever you want after a game for that two to three-hour period. Our Nutritionist, Alex Munt will order pizzas, burritos, noodles and we’ll eat after the game as a team.

 Perfect weekend:

Going for a swim or a surf, then a big breakfast my favourite meal of the day, do yoga, have a quick dip and lie in sun, afternoon drink and dinner with friends and family and an early night. Sunday a bike ride up to Ku-ring-gai National Park.

 Talent I wish I had: I’d love to be able to do a handstand in yoga and to do slacklining, it’s a hobby I’d like to do post footy, there’s lots I want to.