Women’s World Cup inspiring young Greek footballers in Australia

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By Marianna Alepidis.

This week, fans from across the world will be glued to their screens watching as the most talented and agile women in football take to the stage and aim for the title of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 champions.

Across Australia, young girls have the opportunity to see their favourite players live, without having to stay up until the early hours of the morning. 

For those who play the sport, it is an exceptionally exciting time. The saying goes ‘you can’t be, what you can’t see’ and so now, they are given the ultimate opportunity to get inspired and motivated to see themselves, one day, in the world’s biggest competition.

Amelia – U/15s South Springvale FC

Amelia - U/15s South Springvale FC
Amelia.

If you look closely at your screen during the World Cup, you might be able to see Amelia on the field. 

This dynamic center midfielder was one of 24 young footballers selected to be a ball kid. 

“I couldn’t believe it. I was very thankful, knowing that 24 people got it and I was one of them. Being able to tell everyone I’ve got this role has been amazing,” she told The Greek Herald.

With Greek and Argentinian heritage, there was little doubt that Amelia would not have a soccer ball at her feet. One of her greatest inspirations on the field however, is American. 

“Although I don’t get to see Alex Morgan, I’m so excited to know that she’s there. I love her passion and the way she plays. She’s got an amazing touch, amazing finishes. To me, she’s never had a bad game, she’s always playing good, and she inspires so many girls to play,” Amelia said.

She hopes the competition will encourage more girls to get involved in the game.

“I think it’s a perfect time to host the Women’s World Cup because not a lot of women play in Australia. Seeing all these girls play may inspire more girls to participate and want to push themselves to be better,” she said.

Eleni – U/13s Heidelberg United FC 

Eleni.

As Eleni gets ready for her weekend matches, she prepares herself much like her idols do. 

“Sam Kerr inspires me because I also play the striker position like her. Her passing the defence is really good and watching her score throughout the game is amazing. I also want to become a professional soccer player and play in England and Greece one day,” Eleni said. 

“I also love Hayley Raso because she is so fast on the wing and I sometimes play like her. I also wear a ribbon in my hair like her.” 

This young striker is training as hard as them too, playing in both the NPL Juniors and the Melbourne Victory PAC team. The impact of football in her life has been invaluable.

“I play soccer about 10-12 hours a week, with extra training at home. Training so much has allowed me to create friendships with not only girls on my team, but throughout the whole football community. I also watch over my games and analyse to improve,” she said. 

“Watching the Women’s World Cup excites me, it makes me want to train harder and maybe become like them one day.”

Maria – U/15s Olympic FC 

Maria is what you could call a ‘triple threat.’ Not only does she play football, but she has taken up coaching and refereeing.

“At Olympic FC I coach an Under 9 boys’ team which I love. I enjoy teaching them what I know.  I have been privileged to train under some amazing coaches, including former Socceroos and former A-League players. This year I also started refereeing which is harder than it looks,” Maria told The Greek Herald

The young football player will be catching all the World Cup games being staged in Queensland and is looking to catch her favourite Matildas out on the field. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing the Matildas but specifically Sam Kerr, Steph Catley and Haley Raso. Sam Kerr really inspires me; she started playing football at a young age and yet three years after she started playing, she got into the Matildas,” she explained.

“I think it is important that the World Cup is in Australia this year because it raises the profile of women’s football and hopefully will encourage more girls to play football. It is great to have the world’s best female players playing so close by that we can go and watch them!”

Ellena – U/15s, South Springvale FC

Ellena is her team’s youngest player and whilst most of her teammates are in their junior years of high school, she can keep up just as well. 

“Football has become a big part of my life, it’s something I want to do in the future. The most challenging part of the game is the mental part of it, you have to stay in the game and you can’t take your eyes off the ball even for a few seconds,” she said. 

This swift right back will have her Matildas jersey on throughout the competition, hoping to watch her favourite players bring their A-game. 

“Sam Kerr has done really well the past few years and I’ve always looked up to her. I connect with her playing style; she’s not afraid to get a foot in and she can take shots from far distances,” Ellena said. 

“The Women’s World Cup is a great way to get the word out there that women’s sport is just as exciting too.” 

For those girls who are casting eyes on the game for the first time and are thinking of getting involved, Ellena had some super succinct advice. 

“Just give it a go. It could change your life,” she said. 

READ MORE: FIFA work with Heartbeat of Football to promote heart health at Women’s World Cup.

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