Watching from the sidelines

Westfield Matildas and Canberra United goalkeeper Lydia Williams.
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What a season it has been in the Westfield W-League. It hasn’t been a lot of fun sitting out the season with my injured knee, but one of the bonuses has been watching the action from a different perspective, be it from the sidelines at McKellar Park in Canberra or watching on ABC.

Regardless of whether I’m in goals or on the sideline I’m certain of one thing - this has been the most entertaining of all the seasons in the Westfield W-League. There is a new level of competitiveness with all the teams capable of beating anyone on any given day, and that is something we haven’t really seen before.

For a team to be up there right at the top means really developing real consistency and that takes a high level of application and professionalism. Respect to Perth for what they have achieved so far this season. Their drive and will to win reminds me of Canberra in our undefeated championship season a few years back.

But what has struck me the most is the quality and quantity of younger players coming through and really making their mark. It has been a big step for the league to be developing so many talented youngsters.

Sam Kerr has been in great form, not that she is such a baby anymore. Many of the U-20 players have really stood out as well, which is good for the league and even the national team.

The challenge for young players is to stay focused and consistent. It will be interesting for Staj as new Westfield Matildas Head Coach to see all the players around. But, having said that, I don’t expect the national squads next year to be too different. It is still a big jump from the Westfield W-League to the national league.

Watching from the sidelines it is interesting to see different Westfield W-League teams line-up different formations, sometimes changing for certain opponent. That is a complement to each coach, and perhaps a testament to the football culture we have now.

Certainly it contrasts to my experience in the American league. There are so many talented and physically strong players there, but there is far more focus on the tactical side of the game here.

Canberra are looking good for the semis after an up and down period for a while there. We have developed quite well this season, which is partly due to the consistency in coaching staff and players. And again it is good to see how so many players have developed even since last season. A special mention to Sally Rojahn and Grace Field for the way they have stepped up into defensive roles this season.

As for me. Well, the first thing I can say is that it is a lot less stressful being on the sidelines.

Rehab is going pretty well. I spend up to five or six days at the AIS, and that is probably the best place I can be in all of Australia. Aside from the facilities it is also quite inspirational. Maybe it has helped my rehab too. In a way it has also been good to mix with other athletes, and be a little bit outside the football bubble.

I have just started a little bit of goalkeeper training. We will see where I’m at in January as the next step, but there is no pressure to do things too fast. I’m certainly planning to be available for World Cup selection next June.

There has been some frustrating moments, but is has definitely been mentally refreshing to be at home, and get a daily routine back in my life. I wouldn’t recommend the injury, but there has definitely been a positive to come out of it!

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This article was originally published at: http://www.footballaustralia.com.au/article/watching-from-the-sidelines/10o4j8dz8zpp01096wjzhoz2ao.