Feature

Why winning the Algarve Cup isn’t important

The maiden voyage to the Algarve Cup has been a long time coming.

Matildas

Matildas players Clare Polkinghorne (left), Kyah Simon (centre) and Katrina Gorry (right). Source: AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

For 17 years we have been shunned from the prestigious Algarve call up. Mainly due to the distance it would take to travel there and the cost.

The annual competition - one of the most well-respected and longest-running women's international football events - has long drawn the best countries in the world to play in Algarve, Portugal.

Because of its location the best teams in Europe find it a perfect tournament to come to. Ease of travel and a power-packed line up creates a tournament second to none. The USA has only recently decided to host a She Believes Cup, which filters the competition a little but it's still a hugely popular tournament with the world’s best.

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Who cares about that stuff though? All you want to know is can we win it?

Of course we can. But the likelihood is, probably not.

"How un-Australian of you," I hear you say. Of course we do not go into any tournament not wanting to win but the reality is that we are at the beginning of a new four-year cycle.



We'll have a new generation of footballers to test and to showcase not only their skills but also their faults in a tournament proposed to challenge them not only physically but also mentally. Plus you have to remember they have already endured a 35-hour trip and the ridiculous amounts of jet lag that goes with a Portuguese time difference, before they even kick a football.

Don't get me wrong, of course I think they can win it. Anyone who knows me knows I have complete belief in these girls.

But I also know that for us to get a broader pool of Matildas that can step up to the plate, we need to test the younger or more inexperienced players and give them a chance of succeeding or faltering on the world stage.

So whilst you want your best eleven out on the park at all times to ensure results, that doesn't help the inexperienced players to give it a red-hot go.

You want better tournaments to put extra strain on the team so they can use the experience to get better, so that they can peak right when it matters most - in three years' time at the FIFA World Cup in France.



So as I turn on my TV screen at 5:30am tomorrow morning I will be hoping to see goals and my Matildas turning it on for everyone to see. I also will not be fixated on the score line.

I will be fixated on Kyah Simon and her growth as a leader in the Matildas or Emma Checker returning from a knee injury and how she plays out of her skin for her country and on the young Alex Chidiac who comes on and creates a headache for the opposition.

I’ll be looking for the kid with the ribbon in her hair (Hayley Raso) and the two who have been playing in Germany, (Emily Van Egmond & Elise Kellond-Knight) the one who just got nominated to be selected in the FIFA-Pro squad (Steph Catley) and the keeper who seems to be a protector of spiders the way she keeps the corners of her goal clean (Lydia Williams).

I will be watching and supporting - no matter the time, no matter the score line - knowing they'll return successful whether they bring the trophy back in their luggage or not.


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4 min read
Published 1 March 2017 at 6:38pm
By Melissa Barbieri