What would it be like to be a ... Matilda?

We asked Kate Gill – a player for the Australian women's national football team, nicknamed the Matildas – about being an elite sportsperson on the international stage.
Kate Gill: one of our Matildas ... and lovin' it!

How old were you when you started playing soccer? What type of player were you? (Yatin, April, Atisha, Kobi, Alex, Elsa, Sydney, Caitlin and Margaret)

Well guys, I started playing soccer when I was four years old with a local boys team in Newcastle NSW. I would have to say that I was a very different player when I was younger than what I am today. However I have always been an attacking player and love scoring goals!

What made you interested in playing soccer? (Caitlin and Alex)

Caitlin and Alex it was my Grandfather who got me into soccer. He grew up in Liverpool, England and loved Everton. Some of my fondest memories are kicking the soccer ball with my Grandfather in the back yard.

Which position do you play? What do you have to do in that position? (Ronya, Jack, Clancey, Aline, Connor and Caitlin)

Good question guys. I play up front in the centre of the field. In my position I have a specific role, I am what’s known as a “target player”. My job is to be big and strong and to hold the ball up and bring my teammate’s into the game and of course to score goals. It is important that I have players around me that are fast and mobile so that we have a good balance throughout the team.

Kate's got it all under control.

What should we call the 'round ball game' - soccer or football? (Mr Williams)

Very good question Mr Williams. I would like it to be called football, but I can understand why we call it soccer, with all the different football codes in Australia. For me soccer is the only football!

How many goals have you scored either in your first division teams and for Australia? (Aurora, April, Aline, Lottee, Jack and Maggie)

In my career for the
Matildas (Australian women’s soccer team) I have played 58 games and scored 28 goals. I have played for many club teams and, to be honest, I am not sure how many games I have played or goals I have scored.

Do you play every week? (Margaret)

Hi Margaret! I play every Saturday or Sunday and sometimes during the middle of the week on Wednesday or Thursday. I also train every afternoon and also on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. If I am lucky I sometimes get Fridays off.

Kate flying high!

Did you want to be something else when you grew up? (Alex and Ronya)

Alex and Ronya, I always wanted to play football for Everton with the boys and I was most upset when I found out this wasn’t possible! I guess playing for Australia is just as good.

Have you played in other countries? (Bella)

Hi Bella, I currently live and play in Sweden and I have enjoyed it so much that this is my third year in Sweden. Being part of the
Matildas also means that we get to travel all over the world and play in many different countries.

Kate (No. 12) with the rest of the Matildas.

How hard is it to compete at the top level in soccer? (Ellie)

Ellie playing soccer at the top level is hard. Most of my time is spent training rather than playing soccer games. Each week I spend about six hours training with the team, three and a half hours working on my finishing on goal, 2 hours in the gym and an hour improving my speed. I do all of this so that I can play for 90minutes on a Sunday.

Do the girls pull their tops up on the heads like the boys when they score a goal? (Lottee)

Well Lottee, I have only ever seen one girl do this and she was playing for the USA against China in the women’s world cup in 1994. She scored the winning penalty and then decided to take her shirt off.

Who is the soccer player you admire the most? (Connor)

That is a good question Connor. I would have to say that when I was growing up I loved watching Ian Wright. He played for Arsenal and scored in nearly every game. At the moment I love to watch Fernando Torres who plays for Liverpool and also Spain. There are so many great players but they would have to be my two favorites.

Do you follow any team? (Sydney)

Sydney, I am an Everton supporter, and if I wasn’t my Grandfather would be very disappointed in me. I love to watch any soccer. It doesn’t really bother me who is playing.

Kate's grandfather's favourite team was Everton, and a proud Evertonian Kate is too!

Are you studying anything else away from your soccer career? (Mr Williams)

Mr Williams you will be very pleased to know that I am currently studying a Bachelor of Psychology at the University of Western Australia, although it is taking me a long time to complete due to my sporting commitments. I hope to be finished in the next two years and working as an organisational or sports psychologist. I am also a qualified fitness instructor so I have a few options up my sleeve for when I decide to stop playing soccer. I am very lucky that my parents always encouraged me to do something else as well as soccer.

What was it like to play in your first representative game with the Australian Women's National Team? (Kate, Ghadeer and Aurora)

Hi Kate, Ghadeer and Aurora, my first game for Australia was against New Zealand in 2004. I came on as a substitute and played the last 20 minutes of the game. To be honest I don’t remember that much about the game, as I was so excited and proud to be playing for my country.

What are the most number of goals you've scored in any game? (Elsa)

Well Elsa, the most number of goals that I have scored in a game while playing for the
Matildas is five in two consecutive matches against Chinese Taipei and Taiwan.

Is it difficult being a sportswoman in Australia? Do they get enough support and media coverage? (Atisha)

That’s a great question Atisha. I would have to say that it is difficult, as we do not receive as much media attention as the men. However I have been lucky enough to be involved in many great marketing opportunities, including being in a Wiggles DVD, working as a football analyst on the World Game and writing a monthly soccer column in four four two footballing magazine. Although it is tough to come across these opportunities I think that it is really important that I make an effort to put myself in the spotlight and to make the most of the opportunities that I have been presented with.

Foul Ref!!!

Do you have any friends in the Socceroos? (Caitlin)

Caitlin just recently prior to the Socceroos leaving for the World Cup and the
Matildas heading to China for the Asian Cup, we had a combined training session and then a team dinner. I was fortunate enough to sit at the same table as Josh Kennedy, Luke Wilkshire and Jason Culina. They are great guys and I really enjoyed talking with them.

Josh Kennedy, Luke Wilkshire and Jason Culina: fellow reresentatives of Australia in the 'round ball game' for the Socceroos

Do you enjoy playing soccer? (Eliie and Ghadeer)

Eliie and Ghadeer, I love playing soccer and would have to say that I have the best job in the world. I get to wake up each morning and do what I love. The thing I love most about soccer is that I am always learning, each day at training I learn something new and have the chance to become a better player.

Say a big thank you to your students for me. They gave me some really great questions and I really enjoyed taking the time to answer them.

Thank YOU Kate for the great answers! I think it might be time to go outside now and have a kick.

Kate's lining up for goal, pony tail at the ready, in Jack's picture

How much enjoyment are these players having when playing soccer! Maggie, Ellie and Sydney are the artists behind these pictures.

Kate looks like a winner in this picture by Alex. In fact, Lottee shows the team lifting the Trophy high.
Aurora, Aline and Lilli have some Matildas on the field.