Football has always been a huge part of Matilda McNamara’s life.
She first took up the game at the age of four after her family moved to Colorado in the United States, before returning to her hometown around half a decade later.
Her determination to succeed has seen her reach the heights of plying her trade on the Westfield W-League stage.
“My family is from Adelaide but we moved over there when I was about three for five or six years,” McNamara revealed.
“So it kind of started my football journey over there I guess. It was a sport that all girls played over there so just playing ever since then.”
McNamara would make her Adelaide United Women debut during the 2015/16 campaign, featuring on two occasions.
But at the end of that season she decided to put her career on hold and stopped playing, to focus her attention on her education ahead of year 12.
It was a tough decision to make, for McNamara who currently studies a double degree in chemical engineering and science.
“After that season I went into year 12 and that year I kind of decided I wanted to focus on university and not play for a year,” she said.
“And just kind of focus on my university a bit more and what I wanted to do.”
However, a desire to return meant that her study would take somewhat of a back seat.
A fabulous treble-winning season with Adelaide City in the local Women’s National Premier League last year, caught the attentions of former Adelaide United Women Head Coach, Ivan Karlović.
“I kind of missed playing soccer so much that I came back into it,” she added.
“I started playing club and last year I really pushed to make the United team again and luckily I did which was really nice.
“And now it’s turned into a bit more of my focus and university has kind of gone on the back-burner a bit more, because I think I missed it a lot when I didn’t play for that year.”
The 21-year-old was brought in as depth but by the end of the 2019/20 season she was an integral cog in the Reds’ defensive structure; starting four of the final five matches.
The centre-back adapted quickly to the increase in intensity, and cut a composed figure on the ball, while illustrating a sound reading of the game.
It may come as no surprise for the Liverpool fan, who admires the prowess of Virgil van Dijk, considered one of the best defenders in world football.
McNamara attributed her ability to make the seamless transition when called upon was by taking every training session as if it was a game.
“I think last season making that transition was really easy because I got to train so frequently with the girls at a high level,” she said.
“And I felt like towards the end of the season I was at that level and then I got some games so it felt good to get into it.
“I think it was more about working really hard at trainings and making sure everything I did at training was as good as it could be, at game level.
“So then when it actually came to playing games it was almost like doing another session rather than freak out because it was a game.
“Like I knew I could play at that level because we had done it in sessions so many weeks before.”
Now determined to consolidate those performances for the upcoming season, McNamara holds aspirations of one day playing overseas if the chance transpired.
“I think especially this year I think personally I’ve improved a lot,” she admitted.
“As a player in the local league I think that showed and I think if the opportunity arose, I definitely want to keep pursuing this and if I ever go overseas it would be a great opportunity to go and do that.
“But as of out right now I’m just focussing on still improving the things I can personally as a player and hopefully getting as many minutes this W-League season as I can to really showcase those improvements.”
McNamara also felt there was a real sense of optimism within squad given the core of the group have been together for several seasons now.
She believed that, coupled with other clubs losing Matildas to overseas sides hopefully provides an advantage and a top-four finish is accomplished.
“I think last season everyone thought we were playing really good football but weren’t getting the results that sometimes we thought,” she said.
“And now this season everyone is kind of thinking this is our year to really show that we can get the results as well as play really good football.
“I think we’re all really hoping that we can push for a finals spot this year because individually I think we’re all a lot better players than maybe last year.
“And as a team we’ve been together for a while, the core group of girls, and I think it’s coming together nicely for this year to be a good season.”