‘Blessing in disguise’ has delivered an A-Leagues Grand Final ‘cheat code’

Emina Ekic has the chance to complete a double this weekend in her second stint with Melbourne City. The talented import speaks to aleagues.com.au about what’s made life easy away from the United States and more.

Melbourne City’s Emina Ekic is almost 16,000km away from her home in the United States… on the opposite side of the world.

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

The 1990s war in Bosnia forced her family to flee and be split apart.

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

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


“My family has been the best,” Ekic told aleagues.com.au.

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s so nice, like getting away from the facility and football and going to their house and having their support for games. It’s really helped me unplug while I’ve been here because I feel like it’s a lot harder being away from home.

“It’s been lovely. Like having them for support. They come to everything, I’ll go there on off days and we’ll have like a barbecue and just kind of unwind and unplug.

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


Family, clearly, means so much to Ekic.

That’s why representing Bosnia-Herzegovina, after debuting last year, holds such significance to her entire family.

“It meant the world to me (playing for Bosnia-Herzegovina) because it took me 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 – essentially my family is fully Bosnian and living in the US. Yeah. That process took a while.

“I actually found out when I was here last year alone that all the paperwork was done, and that our passports, they got mailed to our house, which was really exciting.

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

“It’s just meant the world like my parents who actually were visiting 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 it that I’m representing where we’re from and I’ve made that decision on my own to play for our country.

“I can see, like my mum tear up when they play the national anthem. It’s just something that really hits home to my family. My grandparents, they they make the drive – it’s about a three-hour drive to the training centre and they’ve been watching our games.

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

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Ekic suffered an ankle injury cruelly cut short the loanee’s maiden campaign in Melbourne last term.

It was a significant injury and one that took longer to recover from than anticipated – eight months which is tough for a player who had already torn both of her anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) previously.

After leaving Racing Louisville permanently, Ekic returned to City on a two-year deal at the start of 2023-24 and she has been a key member in the club’s Premiership campaign and run to this weekend’s final with eight goals and four assists – her best return at senior level.


“I had come over on loan to gain some experience because that was the factor that was holding me back at home because I was very young and lacked some playing time and experience,” she recalled.

“It was tough because I really bought into the club and the team here and I was doing well.

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

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

Ekic is a player brimming with confidence, and it has showed on the field.

Her style of football has been shaped by watching technical players like her idol – Brazilian superstar Marta.

In fact, her NWSL debut was in a game against Marta’s Orlando Pride three years ago and it is a meeting she will never forget.

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

“I was honestly just in awe the whole game. Like, I don’t even think I was focused. I was just staring at her.

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

“It’s an indescribable feeling. Growing up and watching someone on TV and then getting the privilege to play against them and meet them.”


She is also coming off her first club honour at senior level – this season’s Premiers Plate. A Championship would be icing on the cake of a memorable season.

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

“Even at my last club, I’ve never won the league or we never made it to the Championships. So it would just mean the world.

“It’s what I came here to do. Being far away from home and that’s a big commitment for such a long time. I came here to grind and win some silverware.

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