Ahead of this weekend’s do-or-die Westfield W-League semi-final against fierce rivals Sydney FC, we caught up with Brisbane Roar Women captain Clare Polkinghorne to ask your chosen questions from Facebook and Twitter.
Ahead of this weekend-s do-or-die Westfield W-League semi-final against fierce rivals Sydney FC, we caught up with Brisbane Roar Women captain Clare Polkinghorne to ask your chosen questions from Facebook and Twitter.
Polkinghorne has already represented Australia at two FIFA World Cups, was part of the AFC Asian Cup-winning squad two years ago and collected the most prestigious award in Australian football in 2010 - the Player of the Year award - alongside Qantas Socceroo legend Mark Schwarzer, all by the time she turned 23 earlier this month.
A leader by example, Polkinghorne has worn the skipper-s armband at Brisbane Roar since season two, guiding her side to consecutive Westfield W-League Grand Final appearances and with her eye firmly set on another.
1. This weekend is a big one for you and your teammates. As captain, how do you keep your team focused and motivated?
I don-t think motivation is an issue leading into a semi-final, I think everyone is keen to play so I think keeping them focused would be the main issue. I think all that work is done on the training pitch, keeping them focused on the game ahead and reminded them of what needs to be done and how we-re going to play the game on the weekend. We don-t have too many young girls, I don-t think we have a player under 18 so everyone has been through semis and finals before. We all know it-s not a time for slacking off and you-ve got to get down and work even harder. Everyone has got a good head on their shoulders and we know it-s a tough road ahead. I-m as confident can be heading into a semi-final. It-s obviously going to be a really tough game but one that everyone is looking forward to. Against Sydney, you know what you-re going to get - it-s going to be tough, physical, fast, and you-ve got to grind the game out and hopefully come out on top. They know how we play and we know how they play, we know what sort of players they-ve got and it-s just about trying to break each other down. There-s only going to be one winner and hopefully that-s us.
2. Fourth season of the Westfield W-League … How have you seen the Brisbane Roar team develop and what are the main differences in the squad from season one?
I think the main thing is now the depth we have in our squad. We-ve got Emily [Gielnik] coming off the bench and scoring a lot, I think she-s up to seven for the season, most coming off the bench. The players that we have on the bench and the players that don-t get to play or kit up each week - we-ve got a good competition for spots but we-ve also got good stability in our starting line-up this year. I also think we-ve got a lot more mobility coming from the first season. So I-d have to say depth, mobility and stability are probably the major differences between now and first year. Speaking of depth, our reserve goalkeeper Hoshimi Kishi played out of her skin on the weekend. Had she not had the game of her life, we probably wouldn-t be sitting here waiting to play the game up here on Sunday. It-s got to be hard being the second ‘keeper, training as much as anybody week in week out and having to watch every game so I-m happy for her that she got the opportunity and she really took it with both hands and played extremely well.
3. What improvements, if any, would you like to see made to the Westfield W-League?
Probably the main thing would be the number of games. We-ve got 12 rounds and only ten games in the regular season. I think if we-re going to improve our league and improve our standard here in Australia, we have to at least double that in the years coming. That-s all in the making and it takes time to develop a strong and stable league so hopefully one day, we-ll get there. We probably play about three months of the year, that-s a long off-season but we fill that time with Westfield Matildas national duties and lots of training camps and things like that. It sort of goes quickly but then again, the season comes and goes just as quickly too.
4. The last couple of years have been pretty massive for you personally - winning the AFC Asian Cup, playing in the FIFA World Cup, winning the Australian Player of the Year. What ambitions do you have left?
I-ve still got plenty of things I want to do in the game. Obviously a big thing that a lot of us wanted to experience was the Olympic Games. I-ve been through two qualifications now and have had to deal with the disappointment of not qualifying for the Olympics. I think that-s the top of my list at the moment - sticking around for another four years and hopefully get to another World Cup along the way and finish it off with an Olympic Games and see how we go from there. I also had a little stint in the US a couple of years back and that-s something I really want to do again. I played in just an amateur league club called the Freedom Futures, which is aligned with the Washington Freedom in the WPS team. I had a couple of months over there in their amateur league and that was a good experience. Hopefully in the next couple of years I-ll find a club overseas and extend my playing time during the year. When I finish playing, I-d like to stay involved in the game somehow. I don-t know if I-m built for coaching just yet but come the end of my career, it might be something that I look to. A lot of the girls that I started off in the Matildas with, the older players, they-ve all retired and moved onto coaching. It-s a good way to stay involved in the game and give back to the game. It could be on the cards, but we-ll wait and see!
5. You-ve had experience at the FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup. Do you think playing in Asia has been beneficial for the national team? What do you like/dislike about playing in Asia?
I think the move into Asia has been the best thing for women-s football in Australia. I mean, the Japanese are the reigning world champions so there are no better people you want to play than the world champions. The likes of North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan - they-re all so technically good as footballers and they-re quick and move the ball quickly too, which is something we kind of lack in Australia. It-s been good to move into Asia and step up our game a little bit. It-s definitely more of a challenge and every year, we-ve improved against the Asian teams. If there had to be a dislike, it would have to be a lack of the European style of football. We lost to Sweden in the World Cup quarter-finals so there is a different brand of football in Europe, one that we don-t get much exposure to. But I think we-ve got a good style, a good mix of Asian football and our Aussie style which is good.
6. You're playing a mixed game with the Hyundai A-League boys - who would you want to be on your team and why?
Well, as a defender, I wouldn-t like to play against [Besart] Berisha because he just chases you the whole game for the full 90 minutes so that would get annoying after a while. I-d have [Massimo] Murdocca because he-s a workhorse in the centre. [Thomas] Broich… we-d need someone to set up our goals. I-d like to have Adnan play next to me in the back four - not just because of his free-kick the other night! He always just seems so calm and composed on the ball. I think having Meeks [Tameka Butt] run off Broich, that would set up a few goals and probably having Aivi [Luik] and [Erik] Paartalu in the midfield together would make it pretty stable. I think I-d like to see Ange [Postecoglou] and Jeff [Hopkins] co-coach so we can get the best out of both of them.
7. Your tips for the end-of-season awards … Player of the year? Coach of the year?
Well, I think I know who has won Golden Boot! Player of the year is hard to pick. For our team, I-d have to say Tameka. She-s had a pretty consistent year right from the start and has probably been one of our best all year. I hope she gets player of the year for the whole league, I think she definitely deserves it. Coach of the year, I-ll say Jitka Klimkova (Canberra United). It speaks for itself really, she-s done a lot with that team and I think it-s showed in the way they-ve played and in their results so I think she deserves it too.