Everyone’s creative journey begins somewhere. From humble beginnings, individual’s go on to achieve momentous things. With that in mind we caught some time with Melbourne City FC player Harry Novillo. He first made his professional debut in 2010 for Lyon, but Harry’s story stretches back much further than that. We caught up with the soccer star to discuss the places and spaces that have shaped his identity – reflecting on his journey from France to Australia – and remember those who helped him along the way.
Where were you born?
I was born in a place named Martinique, a suburb close to Lyon, France.
What was your hometown like?
My neighbourhood, Les Minguettes, was not the easiest place to be brought up as a child. The area was a known spot for crime – everything from vandalism, drug dealing, muggings, gang violence and theft. The town is now much cleaner to when it was in the ‘90s. I am glad I was brought up in that environment because it built a lot of character that I have today.
Who introduced you to the game?
I was introduced to football at a very young age. On my third birthday, my Dad took me to the store and wanted to buy me a bike. Instead, I bought a football and since then I became instantly hooked and have never given the sport up.
When did you start thinking this could be a serious career option?
When I was nine years old, I entered one of the biggest football tournaments in France. I played very well and won all three prizes for best player, scorer and juggler on the day. It was a big accomplishment to win all three as it had never been done before. One of the best football coaches in France was there on the day and was impressed with all my skills. He wanted to coach me. It was at this time that football became a serious career option for me.
When did you move to Melbourne?
I moved to Australia in January 2015 to play in the Hyundai A-League for Melbourne City Football Club.
How has the transition been?
I love Melbourne and Australia. My close friends and family have been extremely supportive of the transition. They too love Australia and come visit me regularly. They are very supportive of my dream and I am very happy they are with me on this journey.
What’s the football culture like out here?
While football is more popular in France, the sport is growing in Australia. The league is becoming more and more challenging with new players on loan from popular football clubs. I like A-League and Australia very much.
What’s the most exhilarating part of the game, for you?
Scoring. Nothing beats the feeling of scoring in a football game.
What’s been your proudest moment on the field?
My first professional football game for Lyon against Monaco in 2010. What made it proud was that my coach, the same coach who watched my play when I was nine year old, was the one to first sub me on the field. After all of those years, all of the hard work paid off. It was my proudest moment on the field. I was nervous but confident because he believed in me.
What’s been the biggest challenge in your career?
The biggest challenge is trying not to be carried away with the fame of being a professional footballer. It is easy to be side-tracked with the expensive lifestyle, so I always make sure I stay humbled and focused on my career and what I love to do.
How did you overcome it?
I am very close to my family who keep me grounded. There were times in my life where I got distracted by all of the fame and money that football got affected. It got to a point where I wanted to give up sport and throw in the towel. Luckily my Dad, who is a very passionate man, kept telling me “You have to keep going, you have something.” I have a strong support system from my family who make sure they keep me humble and stay level-headed.
Are you still passionate about the game?
Yes. I love football. Football is my life. It has made the man I am today. I do not know where I will be without the sport.
What keeps pushing you to achieve?
I feel that I have to work one hundred percent harder in everything that I do as my family have made a lot of sacrifices for me when I was younger. My parents have worked multiple jobs at the same time to pay for my football school and to keep my passion alive. My family believed in me from the very start. This helps motivate me every single day when I am at training and on game days.