Westfield Matilda and Sydney FC star Caitlin Foord has been awarded the 2011 AFC Youth Player of the Year while Sydney based assistant referee Sarah Ho was honoured with the Assistant Referee of the Year – Women award on Wednesday night at the AFC Awards in Kuala Lumpur.
Westfield Matilda and Sydney FC star Caitlin Foord has been awarded the 2011 AFC Youth Player of the Year while Sydney based assistant referee Sarah Ho was honoured with the Assistant Referee of the Year - Women award on Wednesday night at the AFC Awards in Kuala Lumpur.
For Foord the award concluded a terrific 2011 for the 17 year old who has now been recognised at regional, national and international level as the leading young female footballer in the world.
Even more impressive is the short time it has taken for Foord to rise to international prominence. This time last year the Illawarra Sports High student was thrust into the new position of Right fullback at Sydney FC in the Westfield W-League, performances which caught the eye of Westfield Matildas coach Tom Sermanni.
Sermanni not only quickly developed Foord within the Westfield Matildas squad, but chose not only to bring her to the FIFA Women-s World Cup tournament in Germany this year but also to start her against five-time World Footballer of the Year Marta in their opening group match against Brazil.
"We always knew she had buckets of talent coming through the system in the U17s and Westfield Young Matildas," said Sermanni.
"12 months ago she was still a kid though, when she went through a growth spurt at the end of last year her game changed entirely.
“She-s added a physicality to her game that matches her skill, determination and attacking flair which makes her a very dangerous player.”
Previously a striker at youth representative level, Foord has been converted successfully into a right back and occasional winger at club and national level.
Her pace, ball control and natural attacking instinct has the ability to unsettle and disturb opposition defences while also doing a job in defence.
Foord, who flew straight to Adelaide in preparation for Sydney FC-s Week 6 Westfield W-League match, was still excited about the award but had her mind firmly on the match ahead.
“I-m back in Adelaide with the girls and just getting ready for the match on Saturday (set to be televised on ABC1 at 3pm on Saturday),” said Foord.
“It was a good night, I was sitting with the Japanese players and other nominees and we spoke a bit about our travels and about the Olympic qualifiers in China.
“It was a thrill to win the award although I think mum was more excited than me, I think she-s claimed my trophy too.”
“The hotel we stayed at was great and I even managed to get in a few gym sessions to prepare for the match.”
Sarah Ho, Australia-s other winner on the night, was thrilled with the recognition.
“I-ve been nominated three out of the last four years but this is the first time I have won, I felt very honoured and proud to win that award,” said Ho.
“It-s been a really big year for me and to win in a FIFA Women-s World Cup year is really exciting. You don-t referee to win awards but to win is very special - in this year particular makes it even more special.
“My advice for any aspiring referees is to really stick with it even when things get tough.
“The things you get to do and see as a referee makes it really worth the effort and it opens so many doors - I try to encourage as many women and men as possible to take it up.”
FFA Director of Referees Mark Shield was quick to praise the AR who has been a proven performer in the Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League as well as a host of international tournaments including women-s Asian Cups and the recent FIFA Women-s World Cup.
“This is a fantastic reward for a lot of hard work Sarah has put in not only domestically but also on the international refereeing circuit,” said Shield.
“Obviously this is recognition for Sarah-s fantastic season in Asia and a fitting reward for that good work and consistently strong and accurate performances and this is just another step forward in what will be a fantastic career.
“Sarah-s a great role model and her success shows there are good opportunities for women in football which will no doubt help recruitment and retention.”