SAM KERR

WITH ALL THE GOALS AND AWARDS THE MATILDA S’ BREAK­OUT STAR HAS PILED UP THIS YEAR, YOU CAN UN­DER­STAND WHY SHE’S TURN­ING BACKFLIPS.

Inside Sport - - ONE ON ONE WITH... - –Ann Odong

It has been quite a 2017. What have been your thoughts on the year? Yeah, it’s been en­joy­able – mostly be­cause I am not in­jured [laughs]. Most of the year has been great be­cause the teams I have been play­ing in have had suc­cess, which is the most im­por­tant thing. And of course it is al­ways fun to score goals! In fact, this is the first time in two years you’ve been un­in­ter­rupted by in­jury. How did that time bat­tling those set­backs shape you as the player you are to­day? I think for me I changed a lot when I was in­jured. I ma­tured a lot. When you have had so many in­juries, you can’t just do the same things.

Not only has the way I think about foot­ball – in the sense of this could be my last time – changed but nowa­days I feel stronger in the mind and know that I have such good sup­port sys­tems around me.

It has been a change men­tally and phys­i­cally on how I have taken care of my­self and what I have done off the field to be the best me on the field. The year started off with you cap­tain­ing Perth Glory to the 2016-17 W-League Grand Fi­nal. How did it feel to lead your home­town club to a suc­cess­ful sea­son? It was an un­be­liev­able ex­pe­ri­ence. I don’t think any­one re­ally ex­pected Glory to do as well as we did and we thrived on that. We loved be­ing the un­der­dog. It was one of my favourite teams I have ever been a part of, so that was a huge hon­our in it­self be­ing a leader of that team.

Just the whole sea­son; we had so many ups and downs but all the girls were great and made the sea­son so en­joy­able and I think that is why we did so well. We re­ally did have each other’s backs and re­spect. Hope­fully this year not only do we stay at the top the W-League lad­der, but we keep that same team cul­ture. It’s fair to say you are in the best form of your life. What it’s like to be “in the zone”? I think ev­ery­one is dif­fer­ent; their zones are dif­fer­ent. My zone is that, for any­one who knows me, if I take my­self too se­ri­ously I’ll stop play­ing well. My zone is a very re­laxed zone. If I find my­self dur­ing the day of a big game get­ting ner­vous and get­ting worked up, I have to bring my­self back down and go muck around or do some­thing that gets my mind off the game. I just have to be re­laxed, vi­su­alise and then go out there and en­joy the game. The Matil­das just claimed their first sil­ver­ware in seven years. Where do feel this team is and where do you think the Matil­das can go? I think right now we are in the best po­si­tion we have been in a while. The last cou­ple of years we have al­ways said we are strong can­di­dates for the ma­jor tour­na­ments, but our per­for­mances at the Tour­na­ments of Na­tions have given us a bet­ter idea of where we can go.

We are keep­ing it in per­spec­tive that it was an in­vi­ta­tional tour­na­ment, but some of the best na­tions in the world were there. Going for­ward, with the youth and depth we have in the team, it is a re­ally good sign.

I think it is scary where we can go. We can be our own worst enemies and our at­ti­tude is going to be the key. At Tour­na­ment of Na­tions we came in very pre­pared, ma­ture and fo­cused and re­ally want­ing to prove a point. We still have a lot out there to achieve as a team. You are not one for the in­di­vid­ual ac­co­lades, but you have be­come the first Aus­tralian player nom­i­nated for FIFA World Player of the Year. What was your re­ac­tion when you found out the news? Yeah, I was lit­tle bit sur­prised. You never know with awards. I felt like I’d had a good year, but you don’t re­ally play for awards. It is a huge hon­our and I think it is a huge boost for not only me but for the Matil­das, women’s foot­ball and the coun­try as a whole. These things don’t re­ally hap­pen with­out your team-mates and I am very for­tu­nate that I played in a great team at Perth Glory; I’m play­ing in a great team at Sky Blue FC and an even bet­ter na­tional team in the Matil­das.

We are in the best po­si­tion we have been in a while … it is scary where we can go.

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