“It’s important that women, and men too, are really clear about their boundaries”
WITH PLANS TO complete her law degree on hold for now, West is content to dish out justice at home. “Selling their toys is always a good one,” she says of her novel approach to punishment. “I picked them all up and put them in a box. I actually didn’t sell them, I gave them to charity. They’d had warnings and I told them if they did it again I was going to sell their toys. So I followed through. I did it. Three times. And it worked.”
Believe it or not, West never set out to repopulate Melbourne’s Toorak. “[Having six children] wasn’t part of the plan at all. It just kept happening. The universe just had a very strange sense of humour on that particular day or week of each month.”
It’s a juggling act that draws the admiration of friend George Calombaris. Their two families holiday together, and his wife Natalie Tricarico catches up with West for pots of tea and occasional “cheeky Negronis”, Calombaris says.
“She wants to act, she wants to direct, she wants to write books, she wants to be on radio,” the chef tells Stellar. “I don’t know where she gets sleep in there.”
Yet West, who is the first to acknowledge “it’s exhausting making sure they eat all the right things all the time and that they are always on time and do all their homework”, readily admits to screaming in frustration some days.
“What is the perfect version of motherhood? In my mind it’s a moveable feast,” she says. “I want my memories to be me laughing with them about the bubbles that have spilled out of the bathtub and all over the place, and the fact we had ice-cream cake for breakfast on Mother’s Day, and that on some Sundays we just sit in our pyjamas all day and close the curtains and pretend it’s night-time and watch endless movies.they’re the memories I want to leave, not the fact that there was always a neatly pressed uniform at the end of the bed, or that their beds were always made and their rooms were kept immaculately.”
L ucy Zelić is in love – and it shows. She’s basking in sunlight on the deck of her new home on the New South Wales Central Coast as the topic turns to her partner, A-league footballer Corey Gameiro. The 31-yearold’s face lights up as she discusses him. It has been a whirlwind, she admits – they have been dating for five months, and they moved in together in July, not long after Zelić, a soccer presenter with SBS, returned from World Cup hosting duties in Russia. She was working 18-hour days, fronting more than 200 hours of live coverage that included 57 matches and 60 shows. As busy as she was, she still had occasional thoughts of packing boxes and booking an end-of-lease clean as she prepared to pack up her Bondi apartment and escape the city for a sea change alongside Gameiro, who had joined the Central Coast Mariners from Brisbane Roar. It started as a solid friendship – the pair met through her work – before long phone chats “evolved into where we are today”, Zelić tells Stellar. “He took me by surprise, and us getting together took us both by surprise. But it’s the best surprise I’ve ever had. I think I can comfortably say for the first time in my life I’ve reached a place where I feel like nothing is missing. I chased my dream, football, and what I was passionate about for the better part of 10 years, but now I’ve got someone in my life who not only understands my work but is on the same page with family values and morals.
“I’d arrived at the point where I was thinking, ‘ What’s the next step for me, what does the next chapter look like?’ I wanted to be with somebody and start a family of my own. With work and my schedule it wasn’t exactly easy to go out and meet someone; I’m not someone who enjoys nightclubs and bars, so I wasn’t really putting myself in [that] position. I’d reached a point where I had to focus on being happy within myself, enjoying life and what I already had – a wonderful family and great friendship network.”
Zelić’s passion for football was ignited early during her Canberra childhood by father Frank and older brothers Ivan and Ned, who both went on to play professionally. She completed a Bachelor of Journalism, majoring in sports business, at the University of Canberra and was content staying in the nation’s capital, filing match reports on local games. She did the hard yards on community radio before earning an opportunity with Football Federation Australia hosting its official podcast, then moved to the SBS in 2013. When the broadcaster won the A-league rights, it asked Zelić to do a screen test. “And the rest is history,’’ she says.
Her career goal was to anchor a World Cup telecast from the host country. And she scored it in June, but not without controversy at home for her authentic yet flamboyant pronunciations of countries and players’ names. It’s a style that was implemented at SBS by late broadcasting icon Les Murray, who cited respect for the players. But that didn’t matter to some viewers, who heaped scorn on her. And not for the first time.
“In 2014, I hosted my first World Cup from the studio in Australia and really suffered a lot from the feedback on social media. It tested my resilience, strength and my own self-belief because I did question myself, and wonder was there any merit in this,’’ Zelić says. “Fortunately I pushed through, and arrived at a place where I realised it doesn’t matter if you’re doing a good or bad job – you’re always going to be at the centre of some kind of conversation.
“Coming into Russia I made a promise to myself I wouldn’t look at social media, because I wanted to focus on the task at hand and be in the moment. When everything kicked off back at home, the only awareness I had of it was getting a whole lot of wonderful, beautiful messages of support, so when I did enquire about what happened I found out it was about the pronunciation! I found it really bizarre, because it’s something Les had been doing since he started at SBS and something I did in 2014, so it felt like a new conversation over old news.”
But the media storm continued, with some accusing her of being pretentious with her pronunciations. Still, Zelić says she wouldn’t change a thing. “Speaking Croatian for the first four years of my life – having that secondary language and speaking some German and Italian as well… multiculturalism is important to me, and close to my heart,’’ she says. “I had to laugh because it’s something I’ve been doing my whole career at SBS. I didn’t just wake up one day in Russia and start doing it. I haven’t changed the way I speak in nearly 32 years.”
Besides, she’s busy. Amid unpacking the last of her boxes, Zelić returned to work last month to kick off hosting duties for SBS’S Premier League coverage. She’s enjoying her new commute and uses the extra driving time to listen to podcasts, make work calls and chat with family and friends. “I’ve never been so productive! Life is really, really good.” Lucy Zelić hosts Premier League coverage every weekend on SBS.