Sunday Story: Nat Tobin

From making her Sydney FC debut in a Grand Final with Sam Kerr to lifting the Premiers Plate as captain nine years later, Nat Tobin has done it all in Sky Blue.

The 26-year-old defender, who was born in Wahroonga, completed the final minutes of Sydney FC’s 3-1 triumph against Melbourne Victory in the 2013 Liberty A-League Grand Final.

Coming on as an 85th minute substitute at only 16 years of age, Tobin was in fine company, taking the field to play with Matildas stars Sam Kerr, Alanna Kennedy and Kyah Simon.

But it was an off-season signing just four months prior who really caught Tobin’s eye.

I always looked up to Ellyse Perry

Nat Tobin

“As a dual-athlete for cricket and soccer, I always thought that was really cool,” said Tobin.

“She wasn’t that much older than me so she was always one to look up to and I also loved athletics, so I came through that era when Cathy Freeman won in the 2000 Olympics.

“But in terms of football I always looked up to Ellyse Perry.”

Ellyse Perry in action for Sydney FC in 2014

An international for both the Matildas and Australian cricket, Perry plied her footballing trade with the Sky Blues from 2012-2016, helping Sydney FC to the 2013 Championship with her defensive prowess.

Like Perry, Tobin’s defensive solidity is crucial to the Sky Blues backline, with the central defender part of the club’s record run of nine consecutive clean sheets last season – the longest in league history.

“That was awesome!” Tobin said. “Nine clean sheets in a row is such a huge achievement.”

“We got to four in a row this year and that was awesome, but nine! That’s kind of unheard of so we were very happy.”

“At the back, Charlotte [Mclean] and I communicate really well, we know how each other play so we just work together and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and use them to exploit other teams.

“Jada [Whyman] in goal is also so pivotal to that because she is such a leader from the back as well and directs you, she has so much experience.”

Nat Tobin at Kogarah

Captaining the side to lift the 2021/22 Premiers Plate, Tobin excelled as the skipper in the heart of defence, making 18 interceptions and 37 clearances in just 13 matches.

The centre back helped Sydney FC let in just six goals all campaign, justifying Head Coach Ante Juric’s decision to appoint her as captain before the start of the 2021/22 season.

“It’s crazy when you look back as a 13-year-old training with the club I couldn’t even imagine that happening,” Tobin explained. “I remember getting told by Ante and then I had goosebumps, it was a very proud moment and I’m still very proud to do it every time I walk out onto the field.

Nat Tobin lifts aloft the Premiers Plate

“Being captain I like to bring cohesion to the team … whether it be lightening the mood a bit if everyone’s feeling a little bit down after a loss or even on the other hand if everyone isn’t switching on, I’m really making sure that we do switch on.

“Having that open communication to allow people to approach you is important. I wouldn’t say I’m an authoritarian or anything like that, I don’t really yell. I’ve had that experience before and I didn’t really like it, I think it puts unnecessary pressure on you and fear into your game.

“I think leading by example and also constructive criticism, pulling people aside if you need to say something or point it out to them where they can do better, that’s my way of doing it.”

Expert at organising her troops on the field, Tobin is also a master of the skill off the pitch too, balancing the life of a full-time athlete with a full-time job as an occupational therapist (OT).

“I really like my job and I like being an OT, but it is very tiring!” said Tobin.

“It’s a hard balance but I think I’ve nailed my organisational skills, they have increased so much more since starting full-time work, I am quite an organised person!

Nat Tobin is a true leader

“I feel like I have a lot on my plate and I know what I need to get through it and then on the weekends I just need to chill out and rest.”

“It can be tiring playing a game physically then having to back up and wake up early to go to work, it’s just all that additional stress but I love both things.”

With little spare time available, the hard-working skipper must maximise her down-time when she gets the chance.

And the central defender loves to make most of what Sydney has to offer.

“Anywhere by the water,” Tobin said. “I like walking near the water and I’ve been going to Balmain a fair bit. I’ve been meeting up with one of my friends and we go for a pub lunch and then walk down to the water and chill out there, Balmain is great for Saturday afternoons.

“Recently I went to Elton John, he was so good! And I’m also going to Harry Styles … but other than that I’m not really like a festival person, I don’t have the endurance to go all day at a festival, I get tired!

“I actually listen to a lot of 80’s. Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, a lot of what I grew up with my parents. Like even I just listen to the radio and most of the time it’s WSFM or Smooth FM!

I’m a bit of an old soul I’d say.”

Nat Tobin

Finding ways to enjoy her time away from football, Tobin is also setting her sights on enjoying more silverware with Sydney FC after winning back-to-back Premierships.

But after missing out on the Sky Blues last Grand Final win against Perth Glory in 2019 through illness, the centre back is eager to reignite her Championship success from when it all began in 2013.

Tobin in 2013
Nat Tobin in 2014

“Our main goal is the Championship,” said Tobin.

“The Premiership would be amazing as well but the main goal is definitely the Championship. That bitter feeling when we lost the last three Grand Finals, no one wants that again.

“It’s definitely made us hungrier.”