Despite the controversy surrounding the host nation, the 2022 FIFA World Cup has finally arrived, uniting audiences around the world in celebration of football’s greatest talents. While we might be used to seeing these players don the jersey of a beloved team, watching them represent their country is another thing entirely: it speaks not only to those who encouraged such skills from a young age, but also of the camaraderie that brings a team together, reinforcing the universal truth that football is the world’s game.
But while the Socceroos boast a young, fresh-faced squad that is yet to kick a ball in Qatar, all eyes are on the team and its players. With Australia’s world cup campaign set to begin against reigning champions France on Wednesday, it seems our nation’s football aficionados are wasting no time in ensuring they meet every aspect of preparation: the mental, physical, and those nutritional requirements. And when it comes to fuel for such an arduous undertaking, coffee is no laughing matter. Given that Australia is widely recognised these days as being a hub of great coffee, it should hardly be surprising that our players are taking no chances on the local coffee order. Rather, they’re having beans flown in to Qatar.
According to reports from ESPN, the Socceroos are currently frequenting a coffee shop that’s tucked away in the depths of the team’s training base at the Aspire Academy, where barista Alexia Ralevski currently makes up to 80 coffees a day for the team. With a full cafe-style set-up, Ralevski has become a popular contact for the Aussie team, who it’s reported even help out behind the bar with brewing, and provide help with the dishes.
“I knew a few people that worked for the Socceroos,” Ralevski told the publication. “They knew that I loved making coffee and I was kind of good at it so they thought they’d throw this offer at me and, yeah, here we are.”
As for who is the biggest coffee lover within the squad, it turns out Mitchell Duke drinks the most coffee, with four, five or sometimes even six cups throughout the day. Striker Jamie Maclaren is known for the most complicated order, but true to her loyal post, Ralevski wouldn’t divulge what it is. “He hit me with a magic [order] the other day and got everyone hooked on them,” she said. “It’s the most popular drink so far. It’s essentially a double ristretto, a three-quarter full latte. If you’re from Melbourne, you’d know.”
Speaking about the coffee, defender Fran Karacic said, “This coffee is perfect,” adding that, “I like to drink espresso. So we’re enjoying the cafeteria here all together. The food is always perfect with Vini and with the guys.”
It might sound trivial, but when you’re away from home and have the pressure of an entire nation on your shoulders every time you step out onto the field, the little things make all the difference. For the players then, the presence of coffee that reminds them of home isn’t just a flavour profile to be savoured, but something that also boosts their bodies and minds. As Coach Graham Arnold suggests, it’s even a tool that can help with team bonding, particularly when done over a cup of coffee and good meal. He’s since banned televisions and other distractions during what the team calls “family meal times,” according to ESPN.
“Coffee, the coffee clubs are great,” defender Bailey Wright told the publication. “Aussies, we all love a good coffee. I’m an oat flat white guy, but we’re trying different oat milks now because we can’t quite master which oat milk is the one.”
He added, “These are the things that, you know, people connect over coffee and food, and I think it’s a real social spot. It sounds crazy, we’ve got coffee and a little cafe, and it sounds like we’re spoiled. But we are spoiled, I’m not gonna lie. This is incredible representing the country and having facilities like this. The coffee shops are just a little highlight of that, everyday people and they’re socialising together, and really get to know each other, and I think that’s really important as a group.”