Westfield Matildas captain Melissa Barbieri has just returned from a stint playing for a team in Denmark
Westfield Matildas captain Melissa Barbieri has just returned from a stint playing for a team in Denmark. Girls FC caught up with her to find out what it was like, what she enjoys about Girls FC, and that April Fool’s joke …
You were playing for a Danish team. Can you tell us how that came about?
I was called up to play in a club tournament in Turkey because their goalkeeper was injured. They just needed me to play against an American club team called Sky Blue and they needed a keeper who was a little bit more experienced than who they had.
So I went and experienced club football with them and helped the team out. I was meant to play in the league, but found out wasn-t allowed to play because of some paperwork issue. So, instead of staying for two extra weeks, I came home to play in national team duties—I-d rather be training here at home than there for no reason.
How was it?
I got to go to Turkey. I got to experience life as a professional footballer. Being 31, you know you-re at the end of your career, you don-t know when you-re going to finish up. This allowed me to tick a box that I-ve done it and accomplished it and experienced it.
Was the training any different from what you experience here?
It was different because I got to feel like what it was to be a professional footballer. I didn-t have to go to work and didn-t do anything other than play football. Even if it was only for a couple of weeks, it was a nice feeling only to concentrate on football.
But in terms of training, I didn-t really differ much to what national team camps would be like. There are so many Danish internationals, it was like training with the national team.
It-s easy to assume that because goalkeepers aren-t being tackled as often, they-re less likely to be injured. Is this or isn-t this the case?
Well not really, because not all injuries occur from tackles or from other players. We are in an explosive position, so muscle strains occur. The impact from the ball can cause damage to fingers, wrists and arms, and the landing can help make hips and shoulders become susceptible to injury as well. We are always throwing ourselves into positions many people would back away from, so injury can follow if you don-t know how to protect yourself.
Can you tell us a little about the types of injuries goalkeepers experience? And what sort of measures you take to try to prevent them?
Dislocated fingers, strained wrists and elbows from the power behind shots. These can be prevented by strengthening exercises. Or if you already have a weakness, strapping that limb can help prevent injury to a certain extent.
We are always hitting the ground, so impact injuries are common such as bruised hips or grazed knees. Preventing these injuries are as simple as learning correct technique and wearing long sleeves and long pants for training.
Contact injuries can also occur and can be quite painful. Wearing all your protective gear such as shin pads and gloves can help reduce the impact, but also learning correct technique from coaches to help protect yourself in certain situations and making the right decisions will also help.
You-ve headed back and into the third Westfield Matildas Women-s World Cup training camp. What are you expecting from this camp?
Because this is still the trial phase we are all looking to perform well and show Tommy that we deserve to be in the squad come June. Apart from selection there are things we are trying to work on as a team to help prepare us for our games against the best in the world. I am expecting a high-energy camp with some quality football.
We-ve noticed you posting on the Girls FC page, which we and the other fans love. What would you like to see from us to help you during your World Cup campaign?
Oh I love the girls FC page. It-s fantastic. I love how everyone is using football to connect. I would love to see hero messages and an avenue for people to ask us questions. I would also like to be able to post videos and footage of us training and answering questions. I am loving my bloggie at the moment so that would be awesome. The competitions you run are great! I would love to see girls sending in photos of their Matildas outfits or posters they have made ….
Well Walshy loves playing jokes on people. We wanted to plan something that involved the whole team so we didn’t single out one person only. Walshy actually was involved in a similar stunt in the USA, but that involved relocating the team to a different state. We rang Tommy and said we were thinking about getting an April Fool-s joke in and he didn’t seem too excited … Maybe because we called him at 10.30pm and he was probably asleep! When we texted him that we heard he had resigned, he only said leave it to me. When I spoke to him the next day I knew how excited he was because of the lengths he had gone to to execute the stunt to perfection!
Can you tell us a little about the reaction from your team mates? Was it what you expected?
Well the girls were devastated, of course. It’s not the nicest thing to hear a month out from the World Cup team being announced. But there were some girls who had no idea what was going on either. I thought more of them would be suspicious of April Fool-s, but no one seemed to think rationally at that stage. It was very cruel, I must say.
You-ve raised the bar for April Fool-s jokes among the Westfield Matildas. Do you think someone will try to come up with something for you guys next year?
Hahahaha! I would be very surprised if thy can get Walshy and I … We are on our guard 24/7 now! But the girls have to remember that joke was a bit of payback from a tour in the USA in 2008, when we were being prank called by Lydia and Sally using a voice changer. We thought an axe murderer was after us!
Thanks Bubs! Good luck with the training!