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Yalla Shoot :Matildas star Mackenzie Arnold reveals serious health problem ahead of FIFA Women’s World Cup

Matildas star Mackenzie Arnold has opened up on her serious hearing issues – with the gun goalkeeper revealing it was the Covid pandemic that forced her to confront them as her health continued to deteriorate.

As the 29-year-old shot-stopper prepares to defend between the sticks at the upcoming Women’s World Cup for Australia, she has divulged just how serious her health issues had become. 

Arnold, who plies her trade in England for West Ham when she isn’t in the green and gold, had become used to a life of not hearing properly.

Teammates would have to yell at her in conversations, she couldn’t hear her phone’s message tone and meeting friends out in loud coffee shops and bars had become nigh on impossible.

But thanks to the help and guidance of brother Sam, who has worn hearing aids his whole life, Arnold realised there was more to it – and saw a hearing specialist in London, where it was laid bare just how serious the hearing problems had become. 

Matildas goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold (pictured after being announced as the player of the tournament after the Cup of Nations in February) has opened up about her serious hearing issues

Matildas goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold (pictured after being announced as the player of the tournament after the Cup of Nations in February) has opened up about her serious hearing issues

The West Ham star (left, pictured with girlfriend Kirsty Smith, a Hammers teammate) now wears hearing aids after realising how serious the issue had become

The West Ham star (left, pictured with girlfriend Kirsty Smith, a Hammers teammate) now wears hearing aids after realising how serious the issue had become

Thanks to brother Sam (left), Arnold got her hearing checked in London by a specialist, who informed her she had no other option but to get hearing aids

Thanks to brother Sam (left), Arnold got her hearing checked in London by a specialist, who informed her she had no other option but to get hearing aids

‘It was around when COVID hit and everyone started wearing masks all the time that I realised I’d probably been lip-reading a lot more than I realised,’ the star goalkeeper told the Sydney Morning Herald of what prompted her to eventually get checked.

 ‘Because, honestly, I couldn’t hear a thing when people had masks on. I was just like, ‘What is going on?’.’ 

That being said, it was still difficult for her to take the first step, and actually make the appointment. Almost two years in fact.

She finally got the specialist to check her out in April, sharing the scary moment with fans in a video. 

The specialist firmly explained just how serious it was, telling Arnold she had almost completely lost the ability to hear high frequencies. 

Hearing consonants like ‘s’ and ‘t’ was also becoming almost impossible – so there was only one option: hearing aids. 

Arnold, pictured after making a save in Australia's friendly win over England in April, is now the first-choice goalkeeper for the Matildas

Arnold, pictured after making a save in Australia’s friendly win over England in April, is now the first-choice goalkeeper for the Matildas

Her Matildas teammate and close friend Caitlin Foord (right, pictured alongside their close mate and fellow Matilda Alana Kennedy, centre) joked that finally she wouldn't have to repeat herself

Her Matildas teammate and close friend Caitlin Foord (right, pictured alongside their close mate and fellow Matilda Alana Kennedy, centre) joked that finally she wouldn’t have to repeat herself

‘The lady said if I don’t get hearing aids it will just get worse because it’s just like a muscle that, if you don’t use, will deteriorate over time,’ explained Arnold.

‘Honestly, I saw Caitlin Foord (Matildas teammate) the other day and we were in a cafe that was quite noisy, and she said it was so nice to actually be able to have a conversation with me and not repeat herself.

‘It’s made a massive difference, for sure.’ 

Foord herself is certainly grateful her close mate finally got her ears checked, gently ribbing her in April as a score of Matildas teammates commented on how proud they were of Arnold getting her hearing checked.

‘Can’t wait to not have to repeat myself anymore,’ Foord laughed of Arnold’s decision to get hearing aids. 

According to the Federal government’s Heath Direct website, around one in six Australians experience hearing loss – and that is expected to rise to one in four in the next 30 years.

Worryingly, most Aussies wait seven to 10 years to be checked, and only one in five who need hearing aids actually use them.  

How serious is hearing loss? 

Symptoms of hearing loss

  • having trouble in noisy places
  • having trouble hearing people on phone or if they’re not facing you
  • asking people to repeat themselves
  • hearing sounds as muffled, as though people are mumbling
  • needing to have the TV up louder 
  • often missing your phone or the doorbell ringing
  • hearing buzzing or ringing in your ears
  • avoiding situations because you have trouble hearing

 Treatments for hearing loss

  • hearing aids
  • cochlear implants
  • other surgical implants
  • assistive listening devices such as personal amplifiers and headphones
  • phone apps

Around 1 in 6 Australians experience hearing loss. If you are concerned about your hearing and are experiencing any of the symptoms of hearing loss, see an audiologist for a hearing test. 

Hearing loss makes it difficult or impossible to hear speech and other sounds. There are different types of hearing loss, and they can range from mild, moderate, severe, or profound. Some types of hearing loss are temporary, and some are permanent.

Source: healthdirect.gov.au 

Which highlights why Arnold, and her standing as a Matildas and WSL star sharing her journey with grappling with the serious health issues is so important. 

The star goalkeeper hasn’t used them in matches yet – they don’t fit quite right enough to – but it certainly hasn’t held her back on the field.

After perpetually being the back-up goalkeeper since her national debut for the Matildas in 2012, Arnold is coming into her own.

She was in stunning form for West Ham in the WSL, proving herself to be a human highlight reel up against some of the world’s best footballers.

But it was finally being an opportunity between the sticks by Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson in the recent Cup of Nations where she came into her own. 

Arnold (silver jersey) made a number of crucial saves against Jamaica, and was announced as the Cup of Nations player of the tournament

Arnold (silver jersey) made a number of crucial saves against Jamaica, and was announced as the Cup of Nations player of the tournament

She grabbed the opportunity with both hands, making crucial saves against Spain and Jamaica as Australia won the tournament.

Arnold was so impressive she was named the player of the tournament as fans, pundits and legends waxed lyrical about her finally making the most of her obvious talents.

She is now likely the first-choice goalkeeper ahead of veteran Lydia Williams and rising star Tegan Micah – though it is a competitive battle, in a good sign for Australia ahead of the World Cup opener on July 20.

‘This section of my career I would say I’m really starting to come into my own, I think this is the first time that I really felt part of the team and that I belong there. I’ve always felt like I belong but I never really felt like yeah, that spot’s mine,’ Arnold told Optus Sports.

‘I obviously know I still have a lot of competition with Lydia [Williams] and Teagan [Micah] and that’s never been forgotten, but I’m just worrying about myself and know that the mindset I’m in now is where I wanted to be for a long time. 

‘So I’m really happy that I’ve gotten to this spot and I think that if I can take it to the World Cup, we could have a really successful World Cup.’

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