THE Matilda’s Sally Shipard
Takes the Road less Travelled
Matilda’s star Sally Shippard is a perfect representation of that famous Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken. Leaving her spot in the Matildas, Sally took a break not long after playing in World Cup and went overseas to travel. Half Time Heroes will be hearing from Sally as she will be HTH’s embedded reporter as the Matildas attempt to qualify for the Women World Cup in Germany 2011.
Half Time Heroes: So Sally you left the Matilda’s at age 20/21 to do what a lot of young Australia’s do and that is go and spend time travelling overseas. That was almost straight after the amazing World Cup experience where the Matildas made history by making the next round and then were narrowly defeated by Brazil in an amazing game . The whole country was behind you at the time, a documentary was made. It seemed that everything was going to plan; why the decision to take a break then?
Sally Shippard: All that aside I needed my break. I had always said to myself if I wasn’t enjoying football and life with football then I would step away. I was happy with the teams progress and obviously thrilled with the world cup efforts and direction womens football was taking. But it wasn’t enough to keep me here training once if not twice a day...I lost the passion for it I suppose...I was no longer that little girl who I remember so fondly ‘falling in love with the game’... I was unhappy and unhealthy.
HTH: I read that during your travels you spent time in Spain and you were contracted to a Futsal team in Barcelona and like a lot of young Aussie footballers you had some drama’s, care to elaborate on your experience over there?
SS: Spain was incredible and yes...I had some trouble with the club ‘releasing’ me upon my return. I had intentions to play over there...I could feel the passion building again...who wouldn’t be influenced by the football culture in Barcelona of all places... in turn I didn’t want to be away from Australia for another eight months...having already back-packed for eight months...there were ‘verbal’ agreements for the contract made, however no contract was signed. They took the case to one of the head judges at FIFA, his ruling was that there was NO contract.
Too late though as I’d already missed out on playing with Canberra United...trained with them week in week out anticipating I’d be cleared. But never was. That was certainly a testingfew months. Certainly stronger for it...the body had a good few months to train so looking back as frustrating as it was... It was good in relation to my body considering I hadn’t kicked a ball for so long.
HTH: How does it feel to be back training/playing with the Matildas again? Like a family reunion of sorts?
SS: It feels unusual...I know I have experienced it all before...but for some reason this time if feels much more raw...I’m much healthier, older and have acquired a greater balance with my life...I love being back in the environment of the national team...and it is a very exciting time for football in Australia. Only in sport have I ever felt such a natural high after a big win or a hard session. Nothing beats it.
HTH: Tell us your thoughts on the W League and what do you think of the quality?
SS: Having spectated the previous 2 years of the w-league...apart from my levels of frustration last year, I have enjoyed myself immensely. Obviously with the league being so fresh, the first couple of years will provide a foundation for us all to build on. Our girls who play overseas have managed to convince several internationals strengthening the league. The younger girls coming through the ranks are fast, skillful and good to watch. Small steps, but I can see it being mostly successful. We must be successful at the international level for it to continue to blossom. And for that to happen we need a strong competitive league...so it all goes hand in hand really.
HTH: The National Team has some crucial qualfying games coming up in Asia. The Matilda’s recent two game series where you drew one game and won the other in a recent series against North Korea must give the team confidence for the upcoming matches?
SS: We have a tough group this May in China. It sounds quite silly but in a month and a half our fate for the World Cup next year will be decided. We have qualified before - so for us ‘older’ players we know the feeling...we are training well at the moment and obviously our strong performances over the past 2 months have boosted our confidence. A lot of hard work to do in the meantime, but I can’t see why we won’t be playing in Germany next year at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Interview First Published in Half Time Heroes March