Sam Kerr

Inside Sport - - Hot Shot -

FOOT­BALLER

Just how much of a game-changer is Sam Kerr? Con­sider this: her feats and spec­tac­u­lar form over the past 12 months have her placed as Aus­tralia’s high­est­pro­file foot­ball player. (By this we mean soc­cer, but Aus­tralian women’s foot­baller of any code would’ve worked, too.) Tra­di­tion­ally the home-grown doyens of the round­ball game who we’ve wor­shipped have been men: Craig John­son, Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Mark Sch­warzer and Tim Cahill on any­one’s walls grow­ing up? And rightly so, they were all freak­ishly tal­ented and wor­thy of our praise. But things are dif­fer­ent now.

In front of packed houses, from Pen­rith for the Matil­das to Perth as she elec­tri­fies for the Glory, or in the US where she dom­i­nates for the Chicago Red Stars, this 25-year-old star for­ward, who led the Matil­das’ charge to the 2018 Asian Cup fi­nal, has also changed the scope of what’s pos­si­ble for Aus­tralian foot­ball. Cast your mind back to the bad ol’ days when the Soc­ceroos suf­fered their rou­tine heart­break in nar­rowly stum­bling at the fi­nal hur­dle of World Cup qual­i­fi­ca­tion. Com­pare that to to­day, when Kerr, an Aussie, is the num­ber-one fe­male player in the world, and it gives you some idea of the strides the lo­cal game has made over the last few decades.

Kerr is a def­i­nite game-changer on the field. There are many in her sport who claim they rarely see play­ers with the all-round skill, abil­ity and speed of Kerr. Ri­vals never quite know what she’s go­ing to do, such is her un­pre­dictable play­ing style. Kerr is phys­i­cally strong, of­ten push­ing play­ers off the ball in pur­suit of pos­ses­sion. Of­fers Utah Roy­als FC’s Kel­ley O’Hara to Life­time: “Some­times you get a more one-di­men­sional player; you can kind of negate the strong­est part of their game; whether they’re a very tac­ti­cal, tech­ni­cal player or very ath­letic. Whereas, when you have some­one like Sam, who pos­sesses ev­ery­thing, if you shut down one thing, she’s just go­ing to beat you at an­other.”

Best of luck to the rest of the planet at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup then …

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