Monday, 13 August 2012 19:00
The long road back
Written by TWG
“Two roads diverged in a wood”
We have all faced that cross road. That moment when you know a decision, or non-decision, could forever change the trajectory of your life. For Matildas striker Sam Kerr, her cross road was in the form of a rupture in a small, but crucial, ligament in her knee in September 2011.
It was a devastating blow for the 18 year old who had just completed her first World Cup campaign and was set to embark on her first Olympic campaign. It was also a significant shock as, since she taking up the game at 12, the path to the top had been trouble free.
From club football to state, Young Matildas to the senior squad, this gifted athlete had effortlessly staked a claim in the starting eleven and excelled. However there was a cost, one she readily admits. Complacency. The journey was entirely too simple and the experience at times was taken for granted.
Speak to Kerr now and you can noticeably hear that that has changed.
“For me it was just after my injury [ACL] that I had a whole different view on football,” said Kerr.
“I always taken it for granted and I then realised that I needed to start taking football seriously.”
The new attitude has necessitated a new environment and just last month Sydney FC announced that the forward had agreed to join the W-League power in Season Five. It’s the challenge she believes she needs and an opportunity to prove herself away from the comforts of home.
“With all that has gone on in the last few years in Perth and my injury, I just thought it was a good opportunity for a new start.”
“I felt I didn’t take it [football] as seriously as I should have and I think it will be a good environment training with Sydney.”
While it may be a new environment, the Sky Blues are not strangers. Alen Stajcic coached the forward for two years at Young Matildas level, while many of the other players have been teammates at the national level.
“For me personally, it will be training every day at such high level. It is a team that has so much talent and a broad range of talent.”
Sydney FC have looked to stockpile some of the best young talent in the country. Along with Kerr, newly capped senior Matilda Alanna Kennedy has returned to the Sky Blues after a stellar season with the Newcastle Jets, and they will be alongside Caitlin Foord and Kyah Simon. The latter, who will return from an excellent stint in the USA, is one player Kerr is looking forward to playing alongside.
“There is such a range of girls but obviously Kyah. She is such an amazing talent up front and hopefully I will be out of the wing.”
“They also have some great defenders like Brogan [Danielle Brogan], some talented midfielders like Teresa and Rollo [Teresa Polias and Renee Rollason].”
“It will be exciting but we will just see how the team goes.”
The new found maturity and intensity of Kerr is not just off the pitch. On the pitch she admits she has not always understood the game but the year off has changed that.
“I see the game a lot differently that I did before,” she states. “I used to just take what the coaches would say and go along with it.
“Whereas now, I understand what they are talking about and why.”
“I go to training to learn more, I don’t just go to training to be there. I want to learn and I want to improve every session.”
In two weeks it will be 12 months since that training session ended so abruptly in China, and while the Matildas are the ultimate goal, Kerr is emphasises that it will be “one step at a time” in the very literal sense.
“I don’t want to think too far ahead because it’s taken me this long to get here and I would hate to come back and not play well.”
“I am just really eager to get back.”