‘Blessing in disguise’ has revealed a ‘cheat code’ for the A-Leagues Grand Final

Emina Ekic has the chance to complete a double in her second stint with Melbourne City this weekend. The talented importer speaks to aleagues.com.au about what has made living outside the United States easy and more.

Emina Ekic from Melbourne City is almost 10,000 miles away from her home in the United States… on the other side of the world.

But Ekic is not alone in Melbourne and there is an emotional reason for that.

The war in Bosnia in the 1990s forced her family to flee and fall apart.

Her mother’s side and parents ended up in the United States, while her father’s family moved to Melbourne, Australia.

So when Saturday’s blockbuster Liberty A-League Grand Final against Sydney FC kicks off, more than 20 of Ekic’s family members will be in the AAMI Park stands to support the Louisville native.


“My family was the best,” Ekic said aleagues.com.au.

“My father’s side lives in Melbourne. He has two brothers. They’ve even traveled to some away games, but they’re at every home game I have.

“I actually have a lot of family, like two uncles, two aunts and six cousins. Many of them are older. So they have children of their own, their partners.”

Ekic has always been close to home. She played college soccer at Louisville before being drafted by National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) side Racing Louisville in 2021.

But with so much family Down Under, Melbourne is a home away from home for the 24-year-old.

‘It looked like a cheat code. Like it’s a really big factor,” she said.

“It’s so nice, like you get away from the facility and the football and go to their house and get their support before games. It really helped me to unplug while I was here because I feel like it’s a lot harder being away from home.

“It was delicious. Like you have them for support. They come to everything, I go there on days off and we have a barbecue and just relax and unplug.

“It’s actually a big blessing in disguise.”


Family clearly means so much to Ekic.

That’s why representing Bosnia and Herzegovina, after her debut last year, is so important for her entire family.

“It meant the world to me (playing for Bosnia and Herzegovina) because it took a while (to get my passport),” said Ekic, who previously played for the United States at youth level.

“Both my parents are Bosnian, my grandparents are Bosnian – my family is basically all Bosnian and lives in the US. Yes. That process took a while.

“When I was here alone last year, I found out that all the paperwork had been done and our passports had been sent to our house, which was very exciting.

“Then unfortunately I got injured. So I couldn’t play, but when I returned for my first match after my injury, it was actually for Bosnia in July when we played some international friendlies.

“It just meant the world like my parents were on vacation. So they got to watch me play. Watch me play my first cap for Bosnia. I don’t think I’ve seen them happier. I think they just love that I represent where we come from and I made that decision on my own to play for our country.

“I see it, just like my mother bursts into tears when they play the national anthem. It’s just something that really affects my family. My grandparents, they make the drive – it’s about a three-hour drive to the training center and they’ve been watching our games.

“I can’t describe the feeling like it’s just really heartwarming.”

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Ekic suffered an ankle injury, cruelly ending the loanee’s first campaign in Melbourne last season.

It was a significant injury that took longer to heal than expected – eight months, which is tough for a player who had previously torn both her anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL).

After permanently leaving Racing Louisville, Ekic returned to City on a two-year contract at the start of the 2023-2024 season. She was a key part of the club’s Premier League campaign and strode to the final this weekend with eight goals and four assists – her best. return to senior level.


“I was loaned out to get some experience because that was the factor holding me back at home because I was very young and lacked some playing time and experience,” she recalls.

“It was tough because I really had confidence in the club and the team here and I was doing well.

“I only started playing in July last year, so it hasn’t been a full year that the injury lasted a lot longer than everyone initially thought, just because I had quite a bit of damage to my ankle.

“I knew I wanted to come back here after that and the club took good care of me and even checked on me when I was at home and they did everything they could. They were actually really great. Like they helped with the whole situation and made it better.

Ekic is a player who is bursting with confidence, and this also showed on the field.

Her football style was shaped by watching technical players like her idol: Brazilian superstar Marta.

Her NWSL debut was three years ago in a match against Marta’s Orlando Pride and it is a meeting she will never forget.

“That was a full-circle moment,” Ekic said. “I didn’t even think I would have the privilege of playing with her because I was so young. But I played my first professional match against her and then I got to talk to her and we traded jerseys.

“To be honest, I was impressed the whole match. I don’t even think I was focused. I just stared at her.

‘I remember her saying something to me. She said, ‘How old are you? You’re so young’. That was, obviously, my first game ever, my rookie year and I was like, ‘oh I’m 21.’ She says ‘Oh’ and then she just ran past me and grabbed the ball.

“It’s an indescribable feeling. Growing up and watching someone on TV and then having the privilege of playing against them and meeting them.”


She also achieved her first club honor at senior level – this season’s Premiers Plate. A championship would be the icing on the cake of a memorable season.

“It would mean everything,” Ekic said. “Even when I played in college, I won a lot of individual awards and what not, but I never won a team award. Like I’ve never won a tournament before.

“Even at my last club I never won the league or reached the championships. So it would just mean the world.

‘This is what I came here for. Being far away from home is a big commitment for such a long time. I came here to grind and win some silverware.

“It would be quite upsetting to go home empty-handed because I have sacrificed a lot to be here.”