Hayley Raso well and truly completed her remarkable comeback from a career-threatening injury, making her World Cup debut on Sunday night as the Matildas took on Italy in their first match of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
The 24-year-old Palm Beach Soccer Club junior has come a long way from the young female footballer who wasn’t always aware of the opportunities for women in football.
“When I was growing up I don’t think I knew how big women’s football was, and that there were World Cups and Olympics that we could participate in,” Raso told matildas.com.au
“But once I made my debut for the Matildas and knew what level I could achieve, I definitely wanted to be at those major tournaments.”
Raso was named in the 2015 Women’s World Cup squad that travelled to Canada, however she didn’t get on the pitch at the tournament.
The young Queenslander credits that occurrence with giving her extra motivation to play “major minutes” at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament in France.
For Raso though, her journey to her World Cup debut this year hasn’t come without its significant challenges.
Less than a year ago, she broke three vertebrae in her back while playing for Portland Thorns in the National Women’s Soccer League.
The career-threatening injury in August of 2018 left Raso unsure if she would ever walk again, let alone play football.
This injury came just after another, a knee injury, left the young winger sidelined for 12 games.
Despite having to overcome not one but two injuries in a short period of time, Raso’s World Cup dream was her motivation to push through.
“The whole time I was in hospital or rehabbing, I was thinking I want to be back with my national team, I want to go to this World Cup; that’s why I’m coming back,” Raso said in an interview with The Women’s Game.
Raso made her return from injury in front of a home crowd for her local Westfield W-League side Brisbane Roar FC in January.
“To be able to do it at home in Brisbane in front of my friends and family just made it even better,” Raso told The Women’s Game.
Following her return to the game in the Westfield W-League, the Gold Coast junior set her sights on the ultimate goal; making her World Cup debut.
Prior to the tournament commencing, Raso told of the extra motivation she would bring into this World Cup after her experience with the Matildas in 2015.
“Walking out at the World Cup, it was just incredible to see all the fans and all the people at this huge tournament, so to think that I could do that and step on the field and be playing and representing my country would give me an enormous amount of pride.”
Having achieved this feat in Sunday night’s match against Italy, Raso will now look to make an impact in the final two Westfield Matildas games of the group stages.
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Image: Alex Caparros – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images