Following her fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup selection, Clare Polkinghorne is showing no sign of slowing down.
As a young girl, Polkinghorne always wanted to play football. When she was five, she watched her older brother play for a club team in Brisbane and knew she wanted to be on the field too.
“All I wanted to do was join in. I joined a boys’ team, the Wynnum Wolves, and have played ever since,” Polkinghorne told The Australian.
From there, the 30 year-old veteran kick-started her junior career at Capalaba FC. It wasn’t until she turned 14 when she started playing for the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) that she learned just how much she wanted to represent her country.
“I was training with players who were preparing for the 2004 Athens Olympics and it was probably at that point I realised I was on the same path… I hadn’t really heard of the Matildas, but from that moment on all I wanted to do was represent my country,” Polkinghorne said.
It didn’t take long for the experienced centre-back and at just 17 years-old, she made her first appearance for the Matildas in 2006.
Just one year later, she embarked on her first World Cup journey in China. In fact, she was a part of the Matildas’ historic first World Cup win against Ghana.
“I remember I was very young in the team and was lucky enough to be in the starting team that day, and just to play in front of my dad who was in the crowd and to put on the jersey at a World Cup is something very special,” Polkinghorne told www.matildas.com.au.
Despite holding over 100 caps for the team, the feeling of representing her country is still surreal for Polkinghorne.
“The World Cup is the pinnacle of our sport, it is something that everyone dreams of playing and very few get the opportunity to do so,” Polkinghorne said.
“It’s a tournament you work four years to get to but in reality, ever since we started playing football this is what we’ve been working towards.”
Regarded as one of Australia’s best female players, Polkinghorne has led an impressive career. She became the first player to reach 100 Westfield Matildas caps and 100 W-League appearances, all of which were for her hometown team, Brisbane Roar FC.
In the 2012/2013 and 2017/2018 W-League seasons, Polkinghorne won the Julie Dolan Medal as the best player in the competition. To top it off, she has two Westfield W-League Premierships and two Championships to her name with Brisbane Roar.
When asked about the national team’s form heading into this World Cup, Polkinghorne said it will be a team effort to unlock their full potential.
“I know that if everyone is playing at their best, the Matildas can produce some really exciting football.”
The FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off today in France, with the Westfield Matildas to open their campaign against Italy this Sunday, 9 June.
READ: Queensland junior Tameka Yallop bound for her third World Cup
READ: How Queensland referees earned World Cup selection
WE ARE MATILDAS: Find out what events and competitions are happening during the World Cup, and how you can get involved
Words: Vivien Topalovic
Image: Albert Perez/Getty Images