Sport : ALL its glory….and finality
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Sport : ALL its glory….and finality
I had set out yesterday to spend the day scooting about on my bike, basking in the glory of the spring sunshine. However thanks to Canberra and its inconsistent weather patterns... not the case and I am now perched comfortably in a cosy Canberra café, taking the opportunity to write what will more than likely be my last blog for the AOC.
The past few months with our World Cup in Germany and the recent Olympic Qualifying tournament in China has provided us a plethora of emotions. I guess the realness of our situation is coming to fruition. Firstly we accept and reflect, mainly accept... so that our future plans can be re-assessed. In an ideal world the next year for us would be consumed with Olympic preparation. When this is taken out of the 'equation', what is left? Having re-engaged with the reality of the world once more... we all face the inevitable question of 'Where to next'? Retirements just may be brought on earlier, breaks might be had by some... who knows what each of us require nor how we will all cope?
The Matildas are in a stage of growth, a re-building phase. A whole new generation of players, an influx of young footballers- providing the senior players with no comfort or complacency. The team is selected on current form, pre-conceived ideas have been let go. Previous performances, reputation or level of experience no longer plays a role in the selection of sides. The main reason for this is the personnel and depth of players, both young and old. When the opportunity presents itself for you to perform, you want to take complete control. I am excited by the prospect of how much football in this country will continue to grow. Even though we missed Olympic qualification, you can rest assured that women's football in this country has a future, and I am excited by the prospect of how much potential there is for growth.
Sport provides me with many opportunities and I will continue to use football as my vessel in life to achieve. I want also to instill in others just what is possible to achieve, by simply applying yourself. The majority of life's lessons to date have resulted from my involvement with football... I don't want to paint the false picture and glorify what we do, it isn't easy balancing the demands of study/work and sport, or coping with the extreme highs and lows. Quite often we will question if the swing between the highs and lows are too severe and I sometimes wonder what life would be like with more stability in relation to emotions. But I suppose it is the depth of the lows that creates the intensity of the highs. Ah… the ups and downs of being an athlete...
The Olympic qualifying tournament was off to an interesting start. Before the official opening we had one of our youngest girls sent home to have her knee reconstructed. This was particularly sad. Even though many in the squad have suffered the same injury, it is never a nice outcome for any one individual. It was an odd situation, within 24 hours she was flying home. Lucky she was able to return to the support of her family. Without getting too philosophical, it is one of life's reminders…. You are only a split second away from traveling a different path...
Despite this early setback team spirit remained high throughout the tournament, though necessarily moving in line with results achieved going from the lows endured in processing our losses to North Korea and world champions Japan, to then feel such elation with our victories over China and South Korea. We finished strongly with promising wins and performances, yet our losses in the initial stage of the tournament did not hold us in good stead.
I am not sure of the exact psychological responses and stages experienced when so much is on the line. But I can rightly say I have felt it all, both as an individual and collectively with the team.
Personally I wasn't overly happy with my contribution. I was injured quite early on and was unable to participate in the games that followed. It was a cork I had suffered, right in the belly of my quad. A cork to me sounds so pathetic but if I had attempted to run then I would have torn it. Anyway, I was still able to be around for the girls and provide some moral support from the side-line, as frustrating as it was- it could have been worse. When things are beyond your control in a consuming environment with no time on your hands in order to recover... It all becomes a little difficult to digest and cope with. Anyway all this aside of course the experience was amazing and made the most of by all.
What to do, how to start? Basically our Olympic hopes are all but over.
Sport is brutal, especially the Olympic qualifying process. To think the tournament was over in only 11 days, 6 teams vying for two positions, only having the chance to play each team once.
Dealing with such close losses with so much on the line, you honestly try not to think too much about the severity of the tournament. Even now that we have not qualified….it just doesn't feel like it has 'sunk' in... We won't be in London next year.