Westfield Matildas Head Coach Alen Stajcic has named three uncapped players plus an injection of youth in a 25-player squad for a three day training camp at the AIS in Canberra beginning on Wednesday (15 February).
Canberra United’s Grace Maher, 15 year old Melbourne City FC midfielder Jacynta Galabadaarachchi and Western Sydney Wanderers FC goalkeeper Jada Mathyssen-Whyman are the uncapped trio who have been selected as Stajcic begins to build and mould a squad that will take the Westfield Matildas into the next phase of major tournaments.
The squad also comprises five players who are 18 years of age or younger, with up and coming talent Ellie Carpenter joined by Alex Chidiac, Galabadaarachchi, Maher and Mathyssen-Whyman as part of an exuberant young brigade.
“We are now heading into a new four year cycle. The last cycle ended after the Rio Olympics so this is the beginning of a new cycle up until after the Tokyo Games, so we’re looking at what kind of team we can take to qualify for the major tournaments, starting with the Asian Cup next year,” said Stajcic.
“It’s about having a squad that can peak in these tournaments.”
Stajcic said players chosen for the camp were picked for their form in the Westfield W-League but also for performances at underage national level.
“For the majority it is about what they showed in the W-League but others have done well at Young Matildas camps and in the Under 17 national team, so it could have been on any major arena that we watched them play on,” said Stajcic.
“They’re players we think have the potential to be really good international footballers.
“The biggest objective of this camp and one of the major factors in the squad we’ve selected is building the depth of the team and increasing the competition within the team and giving more players the experience of being in a Matildas camp and playing senior international football.
The camp at the AIS will be followed by a second training camp in Sydney’s west from 20-22 February ahead of the Westfield Matildas’ participation in the Algarve Cup in Portugal.
The squad for the second training camp will be trimmed to 18-20 players, which will consist of the final squad that will travel to the Algarve Cup. German based midfield duo Elise Kellond-Knight and Emily van Egmond will join the squad in Portugal.
A focus on development and the future is also being seen amongst the Westfield Matildas’ off field staff with an emphasis on growing the depth of female coaches.
Former Matilda Heather Garriock will join current Assistant Coach Gary van Egmond in an assistant role to Stajcic for the two training camps and the Algarve Cup.
Garriock is the first of a number of aspiring female coaches that will be given the opportunity to be part of the Westfield Matildas’ coaching staff on a rotational basis.
“Heather is one of the coaches but we’ll also have Mel Andreatta and Leah Blayney to start off the process of engaging more females in our national team environment,” said Stajcic.
“It’s a process of upskilling these high quality people with more experience at the highest level working with the top players in the country.”
“Heather is an energetic and enthusiastic person who has over 100 caps for her country and brings with her a wealth of experience. She was a really dynamic, aggressive, never say die type of personality on the field so she brings in a lot of personal characteristics but she’s also been coaching for a number of years so I’m sure she’ll add value to our setup and hopefully it will help further develop her as a coach as well.”
There are also changes among the medical staff, with Head Physiotherapist Kate Beerworth stepping aside after 10 years of service. Beerworth’s position will be filled by David Battersby, who has worked with the team for the past four years.
“Kate has been a massive contributor,” said Stajcic on Beerworth’s time with the Westfield Matildas.
“Her work has been selfless, tireless, there have often been voids and gaps that have needed to be filled and her work certainly expanded into other areas of the team beyond her role of just being a physio.”
“Kate probably did the workload of two or three people and she was a great contributor to the Matildas over a long period of time so we thank her for everything she did and wish her all the best for whatever the future holds.”
Beerworth will not be entirely lost to FFA as she will continue to work behind the scenes with Head of Medical Dr Mark Jones on key research projects including the ACL injury prevention program.
Westfield Matildas squad for AIS training camp 15-17 February:
- Alex Chidiac
- Teigen Allen
- Mackenzie Arnold (gk)
- Ellie Carpenter
- Steph Catley
- Emma Checker
- Caitlin Cooper
- Lisa De Vanna
- Casey Dumont (gk)
- Caitlin Foord
- Jacynta Galabadaarachchi
- Emily Gielnik
- Katrina Gorry
- Amy Harrison
- Michelle Heyman
- Alanna Kennedy
- Sam Kerr
- Chloe Logarzo
- Grace Maher
- Jada Mathyssen-Whyman (gk)
- Clare Polkinghorne
- Hayley Raso
- Gema Simon
- Kyah Simon
- Lydia Williams (gk)