Wow! What hasn't happened yet in 2016? The year has just begun and already we have seen amazing feats and momentous advances.
January saw the conclusion of a massive Westfield W-League season with Melbourne City taking out the championship. Season eight produced some of the league’s best football to date and welcomed top international players.
We saw some devastating injuries and some amazing comebacks. Notably Caitlin Foord who broke her collarbone during the season to come back held together by four screws, fully fit and as dangerous as ever for the national team.
Post W-League meant an immediate refocus onto the feat of the Matildas qualifying for the Rio Olympics. First hand the build up for the Matildas during February was gruelling. The camps were stacked full of training sessions, video sessions and team meetings and time at home with friends and family was scarce.
But the time spent with all the Matildas girls, pushing one another until we collapsed was the most empowering time of my life.
When we finally got to Japan for our final preparations not only did we know that we had worked as hard as we as we possibly could in every way but we also felt the desire, the passion and the motivation as a team, family and nation to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The Olyroos failing to qualify for Rio 2016 and the fact that the Matildas had not achieved Olympics qualification since 2004 (12 years without success) weighed heavily on everyone’s minds. Five games in 11 days came at us! The results:
Japan v Australia 1-3
Australia v Vietnam 9-0
South Korea v Australia 1-2
North Korea v Australia 1-2
Australia v China 1-1
BOOM!!! We DID IT! We actually qualified for the Rio Olympics. Not only were we undefeated we achieved it by playing the best football of the tournament and we deserved to win. And to add to the excitement it all happened during Women’s Football Week and the qualification decider was on International Women’s Day!
If it is respect we have been fighting for as women we went a long way to achieving that both on and off the pitch.
But it’s not all about the women as many men are often our greatest advocates. So thank you to all of the men that have been influential and supportive of us. Those that give their time to coaching and mentoring, those that support their wives and girlfriends, daughters, sisters and the list goes on.
Then the next chapter begins. For me I am off to Sweden to play in their national league before returning to Australia for our Westfield W-League. Our preparations for the Rio Olympics have already begun….. Australia keep an eye on the Matildas it’s a medal we are after!