Bill Shankly once pointed out that football was far more important than life and death. There are many that would agree.
The beautiful thing about the world game now is that it is very much being recognised as a game for everyone, males and females alike. Former NPLW player Lara Heric, a huge advocate for female football, epitomises this.
North Geelong Warrior's starlet, Heric has football running through her veins.
Bill Shankly once uttered the now famous words: "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude.
"I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."
These words are echoed by many around the world and 19-year-old Heric is part of an ever growing number of females who simply adore the beautiful game, the world game.
"Since I was a young child, football has always played an important role in my life," says Heric. "My passion to be involved in the game in any way I can, has never faded.
"Although my football career has never reached the professional level I used to dream about, the sport is still something I live and breathe."
Heric played NPLW football at Geelong Galaxy United in 2016 and 2017 before deciding to go back to the community level in 2018 for local club Geelong Rangers.
After one season at Myers Reserve, she decided to go back "home" to her childhood club the North Geelong Warriors.
"As NPL for women began in 2016, I saw this as an open opportunity to progress with my soccer career, so I played at Galaxy for a few of years," explains Heric.
"Despite all the great opportunities, people and memories I made along the way at Galaxy, there was still no club that compared to the culture and unity I felt being a part of North Geelong.
"I played at Rangers in the local competition in 2018 with my ex-Galaxy team-mates and it was fun, but my heart yearned for North.
"Therefore at the end of the 2018 season, I made a decision to return back home to play for my beloved North."
The Warriors are easily the most famous club to come from the Bayside region, producing the likes of Socceroos Steve Horvat, Josip Skoko as well as Croatian international Joey Didulica.
Former Melbourne Victory striker Laura Spiranovic also started out in the storied red, blue and white.
Heric's passion for her club but more importantly the game of football is easy to see. She credits the game for bringing a sometimes divided world together.
"Known for being the beautiful game across the world, it's incredible how football has the ability to paralyse yet rejuvenate cities and nations around the world, just for one single game."
The Warriors have aspirations to be an NPLW club in the near future and under the presidency of PFA Chief Executive John Didulica, are well placed to win a licence and be a sustainable and powerful female club.
The Geelong region has grown rapidly in female football. In 2019 there were over 1000 female players and 83 female only teams in the region from Mini Roos through to the GRFC local league, State League and NPLW.
The Warriors themselves had 106 females registered to play this year. They had nine female only teams in Mini Roos, Under 12s, Under 14s, Women's Division Two and Women's Division One.
Heric is now considered a "senior" player in what is a young North Geelong Warriors Division One team and will be an important part of the setup if the Elcho Park based club get into the top tier of female football in Victoria.
She admits she will embrace the role after taking on a leadership capacity in 2019.
"Having the opportunity this year to use my past experiences in football to assist the girls who have only recently began playing soccer, has taught me a lot about myself, as well as opened up my mind to potentially helping out the junior North girls at a coaching level in the future," said Heric.
"Despite going from playing at the NPLW level, to now playing in the local league, the 2019 season at North has allowed me to learn, grow and love football more than I ever had."
Heric's dedication to her club and loyalty to her team is infectious. She credits the Warriors and their fantastic culture for helping her not only enjoy her football, but inspiring her to get other females to be a part of it.
"Training and playing football with a team of women that I can now call my sisters has been an absolute highlight," she continued.
"The passion in our eyes when we play together radiates across the pitch, and from being a completely fresh team, to finishing second and making it to semi-finals is unbelievable, and makes me more determined to see how far we can get as a North Geelong Women's team in the future.
"All in all, the culture at the Warriors, the fever of The North Fans, supporters and crowd, and the roar of emotions that our club possesses is what many players aspire to have behind them when on the pitch.
"After playing the 2019 season at North, I can no longer imagine myself anywhere else in the future. I hope to continue promoting our North Senior Women's team, as well as the younger age groups, at a club that welcomes all players in the community with open arms and hearts and a club that has a passion, culture and love like no other, a club full of people I can call my family, and my home."
It is fair to say the passion in Lara Heric epitomises that the world game, the beautiful game, is very much the women's game.