Batten down the hatches ladies and gentleman, a storm is coming! If they can’t even beat a u15s boys team then what chance in hell do we have in Rio come August?
By
Lucy Zelic

Source:
Zela
26 May 2016 - 5:00 PM  UPDATED 26 May 2016 - 5:02 PM

Last night, the Matildas, ranked 5th in the world took on an u15s Newcastle Jets boys team at Valentine Park in an open training match and suffered a 7-0 loss.

Judging by the conjecture doing the rounds from either the journalists who didn’t even attend the match or self-proclaimed social media experts, we’ve got a bunch of amateur Annies on our hands, who would be better off playing park football against retired geriatrics.   

Spare me the self-righteous argument of ‘just goes to show you that women will never be better than men at any age’ because that doesn’t have a place in this discussion and it never will.  

What also shouldn’t be given much thought is the scoreline or the fact that their opposition were young men because neither were given any consideration by the Matildas coaching staff as they went into the match last night.

Far from it.  

Speaking to head coach Alen Stajcic in the wake of the match, he was bemused that this was even a story because from a football perspective, none of what happened last night was ‘mental’ or ‘not good.’

"In all these experiences you get to learn about the team and you get to learn about things that you can work on and improve and that was certainly the case last night. There were many, many good elements to last night’s game, which certainly showed players who can step up to that level.

"For me the most phenomenal part was Ellie Carpenter who’s a 16 year old girl and played in midfield in the second half against boys her own age, 16 year old boys who are at the peak of their game playing for the Jets and she could compete which was phenomenal.

"To see someone like Caitlin Foord cause all sorts of trouble against boys who are much taller than her, much quicker than her, more powerful but still she caused them problems. It just highlights good things and also exposes areas where you can improve as well."

As for the criticism they have copped for playing against a boys side?

"We’ve played probably 40 matches against boys over the last 18 months and the objectives are always the same, to test out our players to find out their strengths and weaknesses to see where our team structure is good and where it’s not good.

"At the end of the day, four of the seven goals scored last night were scored off of crosses. If someone is half a foot or a foot taller than you, that’s an anatomical and a biomechanical thing and you can’t do anything about that.

"I go away from the game not worrying about that aspect. As long as the positioning was good. If the positioning was poor, that’s something you can control but being out jumped by someone who’s one foot taller than you and more powerful, that’s not really going to happen in a women’s game."

Aside from testing out structures and getting visibility of players in a competitive environment, Stajcic was clear about the way they wanted the game to be played and liaised with the opposition coaches beforehand.

"We do that all the time. We just ask them to replicate the opposition that we’re going to play against and that’s what we usually do. They played in the same formation that New Zealand will play against us, that we anticipate, so that really helps us prepare and develop for that match."

It’s almost boring to read isn’t it?

That there was nothing sinister or shocking about last night’s 7-0 loss doesn’t make for a great headline or talking point to blow out of proportion on social media. 

'Matildas routinely prepare for match against New Zealand in an open training session’, doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as ‘Matildas thrashed 7-0 by Newcastle Jets under 15s boys’ does it?

Perhaps more concerning was that none of the attention was directed to the incredible turnout on the night which saw the attending Matildas players mobbed by young girls all eager to meet them. 

Prior to the match kicking off, the players were invited to take part in clinics arranged by Football NSW which saw the squad engage with their biggest fans and the future of Australian football as they played mini-games. 

I suppose 'Matildas mobbed by young and old at meet and greet’ doesn’t make for a great headline either, does it? 

Well you know what, it bloody-well should.