Sally Shipard lived every child's dream when she went from watching the Matildas in the stands at Sydney 2000, to playing for the Matildas at Athens 2004.
Ann Odong

23 Jun 2016 - 11:30 AM  UPDATED 23 Jun 2016 - 11:30 AM

From 2004 - 2011 Shipard went on to pull on the Australian jersey 59 times including at two FIFA Women's World Cups and two AFC Women's Asian Cups, winning a silver and gold medal.

As well as the national team, Shipard had a successful career with Canberra United in the W-League with the midfielder leading Canberra to a premiership and championship.  For her efforts, Shipard was awarded the 2012 Julie Dolan Medal for the Player of the Year.  

Since retiring from football in 2014, she works part-time at the FFA in the community department, full-time at Scouts Honour Café and will soon be a certified marriage celebrant. Shipard also plays an expansive and increasingly active role as an advocate for mental health, gender diversity, homophobia in sport and, marriage equality. 

Midfield maestros make the Matildas

I am excited as to who will boss the midfield. I love the Em Van Egmond, Elise Kellond-Knight and Katrina Gorry combination. I just find myself smiling at the cheekiness they showcase in the middle of the park when making small but crucial passes to each other, you could be the best playmaker/passer in the world but without your team-mates in the right position, it doesn’t matter.

Overall, I am looking forward to how the girls will combine in all areas of the pitch. It’s always a little poetic upon witnessing a perfectly timed pass thread through a defensive line.

I look forward to the combinations. The best players for me are the quickest thinkers. I look forward to the anticipators, the players that pre-empt and run to where the ball is not but soon will be…

Plenty of the young-en’s excite me. Chloe Logarzo for example, so sharp and agile. I am drawn to players who have undeniable flair, which is why I find this current team of ours so exciting, they’ve all got a portion of it and at a depth we’ve never had before.

One step at time to the podium

The Olympics for Women's Football comprises only around 5% of the Countries that played in the first round of Olympic Qualifiers so, by Rio, there are no easy games - not even in the group stages. The old “one game at a time” starts with the first game so, in terms of realistic aims, I would hope that our Matildas aren’t looking beyond their first game against Canada.

I believe pressure is a part of being an athlete on the world stage. No matter your stage actually, winning is always something that is present. Are we capable? Sure. But I’m choosing to emphasis the importance of honing our focus towards our initial hurdle, Canada.

Who out of the 2000 / 2004 Matildas do you admire most and why?

From the 2000 Olympics, most vividly I recall the youngest of the squad, Heather Garriock, I was so inspired by her. Four years later she had me under her wing. That was a pretty cool progression. Easily a highlight.

The 2004 Olympics, as an active member of the side. I was incredibly privileged to be in the company of such a remarkably strong group of women. No one Matilda stood out for me. Instantly I had a grand family.

From the stands to the out the Olympic dream

I have an incredibly vivid memory of the 2000 Olympics as a 12 year old. I was perched up in the stands with my family, with my arm wrapped around my little bro... Naturally, we were draped in green and gold, from head to toe.

There was a clear moment that I decided (whilst watching the Matildas play) that I would represent Australia..

What did you take from your Olympic experience

Only being 16, everything was pretty magical. The fact we were competing in the original birth place of the Olympics, Athens. That was wonderful in itself and added a deeper sense of connection as to what the Olympics were and the great history of the games and pioneers before us. 

Focus and be in the moment

In one word, my advice is “focus” which means only one thing at a time.  So, enjoy the opening ceremony then stick with the job at hand knowing the twists and turns of team sport in a tournament style competition can play a significant role in the final result.

When the footy is over there will be plenty of opportunity to “to soak it all up” and that is what they should do when the footy is done safe in the knowledge that they will be Olympians for evermore. If they get the focus right, they might be Olympic medalists too! 

It's time for womens football in Australia to take the next step 

Women's Football in Australia has paved the way in all fields other than dollars. The Matildas have been to 6 of 7 World Cups and, including Rio, 3 of 6 Olympic Games. While we might not get to the lofty heights of the men's pay packets, the sport needs to ensure that the finances are enough to allow our best players to play full time whether our players choose to play in our domestic competition or abroad.

Cricket, Rugby, and Australian Rules are all making big leaps and, while football is on a much bigger stage than any of those sports we have to be competitive to attract and retain the talent that will keep us in the frame for the Asian Cup, the World Cup and the Olympics as well as having a viable W-League.

Matildas "Old Girls": Alicia Ferguson-Cook, midfielder
From 1997 - 2008, Alicia Ferguson-Cook pulled on the green and gold for the Matildas through two World Cups, an Olympic Games and a silver medal at the 2006 AFC Women's Asian Cup.
Matildas "Old Girls": Sacha Wainwright, defender
In a decade in the national team, Wainwright made 65 international appearances for the Matildas, including as vice captain at the Athens 2004 Olympics. What does she think of this current crop of players?
Matildas "Old Girls": Kate McShea, defender
For many of the current Queensland Matildas, defender Kate McShea was a source of wisdom and guidance. Capped 73 times from 1999 to 2009, McShea was at the heart of Australia's defence for a decade through several World Cup and Olympic campaigns.
Matildas "Old Girls": Alison Forman, midfielder and 2000 Olympic captain
From 1989-2002, retired Matildas star midfielder Alison Forman was capped 77 times and captained the side at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. We think she's earned the right then to give the current Matildas squad, FIFA and the FFA some valuable advice and insight.