Westfield Matildas star Sam Kerr has outlined one of the defining moments of her childhood, which set her on the path to becoming one of world football’s most feared attackers.
Growing up in a sports-mad family in Perth, it wasn’t until later in her childhood that the world game came into her life, as she detailed in a feature with US television network Lifetime.
“Sport in my family is pretty big – my dad played professional Aussie Rules, my brother ended up playing Aussies Rules too and I wanted to be just like my big brother and my dad,” Kerr explained.
“My mum always said – we have four kids – that she knew which two were the sporty ones, me and my brother. Once we could pick up a ball, our hand eye coordination and skill was different to other kids.”
Kerr herself took up Aussie Rules early as a kid, but the rough-and-tumble nature of the sport lead to her switch to football as a 12-year-old, a decision which has allowed her to travel the globe and net 24 goals in 67 appearances for the Westfield Matildas to date.
“I played with the boys until I was 12 and it’s a pretty contact sport,” Kerr, now 24-years-old, explained.
“I came home one day with a black eye and a bloody lip. It was no harm to me, it was just part of the game, but my dad got a little bit protective … they couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore and watch me get roughed up.”
Kerr broke into the national team just three years after taking up the sport, a phenomenal feat that also saw her score in the 2010 AFC Women’s Asian Cup final as a 16-year-old, which would earn the Westfield Matildas an historic piece of international silverware.
Two FIFA Women’s World Cups, two more AFC Women’s Asian Cups and an Olympic Games later, Kerr made international waves for her performances at the 2017 Tournament of Nations, adding to an already stellar season with Perth Glory in the Westfield W-League and in the US National Women’s Soccer League.
“She’s strong,” said US women’s national team defender Becky Sauerbrunn.
Sauerbrunn could be one of the defenders picked to try and keep Kerr quiet at the 2018 edition of the Tournament of Nations, where the Westfield Matildas will again face the US, Japan and Brazil.
“She can push you off the ball, she’s quick and agile. You have some players who specialise in playing back-to-goal, or some players who specialise in getting in behind but she’s one of those forwards who can do all of those things, which makes her very hard to defend.”
But despite the glowing praise for the Aussie, Kerr is still keeping her feet on the ground and knows she’s far from the finish product yet.
Despite scoring 16 international goals in her last 16 appearances for the national team, Kerr still thinks she can improve how clinical she is in front of goals.
“People might think it’s crazy but I still don’t think my finishing is up to par,” Kerr declared.
“I scored 17 goals last season [for former NWSL club Sky Blue] but I had way more shots. I always seem to finish goals that no one thinks I can finish, but miss the easy ones.
“The simple things are where I need to improve.”
Kerr added: “I’ve got so much more to accomplish in football. I haven’t even touched the surface.
“I’ve won the [Most Valuable Player award] in the NWSL but I still haven’t won the title. I’d give in all my personal awards for some championship … I want to win championships, I want to win World Cups, I want to win Olympics. If I never win a personal award again, I’ll be happy if I win one of those [titles].”
Watch the Westfield Matildas take on Brazil, USA and Japan at the Tournament of Nations from Friday 27 July to Friday 3 August.