Coming to terms with a typical Canberra morning is just one of the challenges facing the Westfield Matildas as they enjoy a three day camp at the AIS.
Coming to terms with a typical Canberra morning is just one of the challenges facing the Matildas as they enjoy a three day camp at the AIS this weekend ahead of their friendly match with New Zealand in Wollongong in June.
Freezing mornings and plummeting temperatures when the sun sinks have been just another hurdle to overcome for the players and coaching staff in the nation-s capital.
Perhaps more used to the cold conditions is Scottish Head Coach Tom Sermanni who confirmed that the players have been battling the elements.
“As long as you train when the sun is out in the day its fine!” Sermanni joked.
“When the sun goes down it is pretty cold though! The girls are coping well and are well rugged up but the days have been magnificent and the facilities here are terrific and it-s a great environment to work in.
“It-s going well. It-s always a good camp when everyone walks off the field uninjured at the end of sessions.
"When you look around this camp there is a considerable change of personnel in comparison to the last two camps and sometimes it takes a little time for players to get in the mix but really this has been the great value of the Westfield W-League.
"Players now, even if they are only in their first or second senior team camp, know the players and can fit into the system quite quickly.”
Most of the players in this camp can be expected to take part in the forthcoming friendly match with the Kiwi-s and that is what the main focus of the gathering has been on so far.
“What we are focusing on at the moment is how to put the best squad together to play in the game against New Zealand because they are going to be coming in very well prepared for these games and we are obviously in the situation where a significant number of our established players are overseas or injured,” Sermanni said.
“The real emphasis of the last two or three camps has been to look at players and to try and make judgements on what we think will be the best squad to go into the matches against New Zealand.
"This is an opportunity to test out the quality of players we have around the place and the overall depth that we have and I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality and standard that we have had at the last couple of get togethers.
"We did a little tally the other day and it would be 23 players who would have been in national team camps who aren-t available and we still have a camp of 24-25 players here so it shows the kind of depth we have to work with.”
Ball control and possession drills have been the order of the day for the young players this week as Sermanni and his staff try and bring the players together as a unit. But that doesn-t mean there won-t be a game on the agenda. There always is when the Matildas come together as Sermanni confirmed.
“We had a reasonably hard working session on Friday morning and now we-ll work on technique. Saturday we have an intra-squad match planned as when we are in camp one of the things we always try and do is play eleven versus eleven as the players need the experience of that,” he said.
”Whether it-s a club match or an intra-squad game, a full-sized game is important as it gives us the opportunity to work with the girls in a match scenario.”
One player not taking part in any game scenario for a while is Canberra United goalkeeper Lydia Williams who, recovering from her knee injury was restricted to upper body work with the coaching staff.
“Everything was successful in the operation and they fixed up my ACL and cleaned up my meniscus,” Williams said.
“The predicted time line is about twelve months but I-ll talk to the doctor-s and the physio-s every step of the way and we-ll see where we go from there.
"First of all we need to get the swelling down and get full movement into the knee and, at the moment, I have 90 degrees on extension so I just need to control the swelling and get my walking style back to normal.”
Williams had been in sensational form for club and country during 2012 starring for United in their Westfield W-League championship victory, claiming a stack of awards and gaining a move to Pitea IF in Sweden where the injury occurred but is confident of a full recovery.
“The ball got played over the top and a striker and I went for it, she got there first and as I tried to plant my foot and go in the other direction it just sort of popped. It didn-t hurt at the time but I knew that something was wrong as the popping sound in your body isn-t great.
"It-s heartbreaking and I am still coming to terms with it but things like this you need to learn from and build and become a better person.”
The Matildas face New Zealand at WIN Stadium in Wollongong on Sunday 24th June.