Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Matildas: Oh why we are so good?

For most people the Matildas crashed onto the scene with "that nude calender" way back when; but for the football community it was 2007 when they really made their mark.

Reaching the second stage of the World Cup in China in 2007 on the back of some exhilarating displays made even those "football is a man's game" take a sideways glance.

Now four years on no matter what happens tonight against Norway - and we will win and beat Norway for the first time in four attempts - the question has to be asked

Why is Australian football so good in 2011?

After the team burst into our psyche in 2007 they were an older team some had been around for a long time - Di Alagich, Jo Peters, Jo Burgess, and of course Cheryl Salisbury just four who had played many many times for their country and not a 16 or 17 year old in the squad.

Now we have Emily Van Egmond, Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, Teagan Allan all 16 or 17.

When the Matildas turned up in our lounge rooms in 2007 these girls were just 12 or 13.

No-one could have imagined one or four of this age group could make the squad, never mind the starting line-up by 2011.

Prior to 2007 there was no W-League - no ABC televised pathway pushing an increasing number of younger players onto a new stage. And with an increasing number of girls playing the game suddenly more and more were wanting that opportunity.

Every W-League club has a number of young players who have made an entrance (and many an exit) in the last three years, playing with and against their World Cup 2007 heroes.

And whilst few of these have made the final squad, it's the increasing numbers pushing from below that has seen a number burst through.

Are we surprised at the age of those players who have found a way into Sermanni's squad.

Yes if we compare them to the men, but of course girls and women develop much earlier, or so it seems and for many staying in the game beyond 20 or so, and putting in the level of exercise required sees players dropping off the elite level at an alarming rate.

The Women's game has never been more impressive than at this World Cup - less keeper daliances, more technical and tactical football by more teams. Hardly a poor game, or team on view.

The European Champions League has and will continue to improve the European teams - even England beat Asian stars Japan. Australia take note!

The W-League has been great - but we can't stand still. Is Asia ready for some form of Asian Club Champions League. If the Asian teams, often powerhouses in Women's football, want to stay up with the Western teams and emerging African and South American teams simple in-country leagues will not be enough.

And all our players can't go to Europe or USA - or maybe after this World Cup they can!

Our style and skill has stunned and delighted every Aussie football fan who has watched the men for 20 years or more. The advance of Youth into the Matildas is perhaps due to Sermanni's wise coaching although in reality it's merely a case of picking the best talent on display. If you are good enough then, of course, you're old enough.

Ball playing Australian's will take to the field again tonight. It will be fun.

Lisa De Vanna made the World Eleven last time, if this team continues to go forward in the tournament who would bet against Australia getting more players into the World Stars Eleven this time.

Enjoy the ball tonight - it's ours!

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