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May 28, 2013   |  3:56PM AET

Polkinghorne planning for future

Polkinghorne planning for future

Recently announced as Westfield Matildas co-captain, Clare Polkinghorne talks to teammate Sally Shipard about football, life and clinical neuropsychology…

Recently announced as Westfield Matildas co-captain, Clare Polkinghorne talks to teammate Sally Shipard about football, life and clinical neuropsychology…

Polky, you were recently crowned Westfield W-League Player of the year. What was the first thing that came to your mind when your name was announced?
The first thing that came into my head was having to get up on stage and speak. I get nervous speaking in front of lots of people so that was an immediate thought that came to mind.

Reflecting upon your season with the Brisbane Roar, how satisfied were you with the overall performance of your team?
Heading into the season we had high expectations of ourselves, as Brisbane Roar always does. However, I don-t think people outside of our club had high expectations for us a team due to the preparation we had (the club didn-t appoint a coach until very late) and I think this worked in our favour. The focus wasn-t on Brisbane Roar and we were able to get our heads down and just work hard on improving week by week.

As a team we knew we would get stronger as the season went on and this proved to be the case. After round 2 we did not lose a game until the semi-final. Come the end of the season we were playing some very good football and this was rewarded with the Minor Premiership.

Of course when you don-t make the grand final you are always disappointed but I think the season was a great building block for our coming season. The culture at our club and the types of characters our club attracts and of course the calibre of players holds us in good stead for the coming seasons.

The individual efforts of members of your squad (yourself included), you all seemed to have a great amount of self-belief. How was that instilled?
When there is a change of coach in any team, there is always that need to prove yourself again. When Belinda (Wilson) came to Roar, everyone had a clean slate, everyone had to prove themselves, no matter who they were, and show that they deserved a starting spot and even a spot in the squad. This just translated in everyone working hard for each other.

Belinda did a great job in getting us all on the same page in terms of where we wanted to be after the season and how we were going to get there. Belinda implemented a style of play that suited the players we had and made the most of everyone-s strengths. And I think this is where our self-belief stemmed from – believing in our style of play and having belief in the system.

But we also have belief in each other, which is probably more important. In addition to this we had such a good culture on and off the field. To be honest, it was probably one of the most enjoyable seasons, on and off the field, we had fun.

As the Brisbane Roar captain, where would you like to see your team in the future?
We built a great platform for the coming years and it is going to be exciting to be a part of the Roar in the coming years. I think one thing we can improve on is our depth in our squad. We have a lot of very young girls, particularly those in the U17 Australian team, which are improving so quickly and some will be pushing for spots in the Roar squad in the coming years.

So I think in the very near future we will see some fresh young talent come through the Roar that will complement the more senior players in the team. I think from a team perspective we are always aiming to win premierships and that will always be something that we have in mind going into the coming seasons.

You completed your degree last year. And now you have chosen the Honours pathway… Please share.
Last year I completed a double degree in psychological science/criminology and criminal Justice. This year I am completing my Honours in psychological science. It is going great so far and I am enjoying what I-m doing, which makes it easier to manage.

From our many conversations over the years, you are very interested in the mind…What direction do you hope to take with your career?
Yes, the brain fascinates me! Ultimately, I would like to work in an area of clinical neuropsychology. I would like to work with people who have sustained brain trauma through injury or stroke, mainly in the assessment of their cognitive abilities, and possibly some treatment, which would be interesting and challenging.

A popular question asked by fans – do you think if you earned more with your football, would you chose to study?
Yes I would definitely still study, even if I earned more by playing football. I-ve always been interested in learning new things and study and football are a perfect match. Part of being an athlete is maintaining a balance in your life. Study provides that balance and gives my mind something else to think about, which enables me to be a better footballer. They definitely complement each other.

How do you go about juggling everything?
Time management and a lot of practice. I have been a part of the Queensland Academy of Sport for 10 years now so I have had a lot of practice at playing sport at a high level and maintaining my study. There is also a certain amount of discipline one needs to be an athlete, and this translates nicely into juggling such a busy lifestyle.

Onto the national team, how are you enjoying the new environment for the Matildas?
It-s been great. There have been some changes but things are coming together nicely. We have been having regular camps, so it is nice to be able to spend some time training on a more regular basis. This will only benefit us.

A handful of the Matildas have chosen to go overseas this year, are you considering something like this or is it not on your radar?
Yes, I would love to play overseas at some point. It-s all about timing. I don-t want to go overseas just for the sake of going overseas. When an opportunity comes to go to the right club at the right time then I wouldn-t think twice. It would be a great experience. Uni is also something important to me so that-s another thing I have to think about.

We have a new Matildas coach, a new set-up, how are you adapting to the changes?
There are definitely a lot of changes but, as we learned at Roar, changes are good. I think we have all embraced the change and it is going to be very exciting to see how the group develops in the coming years. I can-t wait to start playing internationals again.

What do you hope to achieve with the Matildas?

At this stage we are focusing on learning the style of play Hesterine has bought the team. We have a few games coming up that will be a good indication as to where we are as a team. We have already begun our preparation for the 2015 World Cup and 2016 Olympics and that is what we are striving for.

What are your personal ambitions with the national team?
Personally, I want to keep improving myself as a player and want to make an impact in some way. Obviously World Cups and Olympics are the ultimate in football, so being a part of the Matildas towards 2015 and 2016 is something that I want to achieve.

As far as coaching and development, are you interested in this area post playing for AUS?
It-s not something I have seriously considered but it would be nice to continue to be involved in Football at some level when my playing days are up but that-s something to be considered – in a fair while from now I hope.

What is your overall goal in life? I know it-s a broad question but I am intrigued as to what your response might be…
My overall goal… This is a tough one. I guess to be successful and enjoy whatever I find myself doing. That-s a pretty broad goal but I-ll leave it at that.

And finally, can you share with us the advice you would provide a young up and coming dreamer?
Do something you enjoy doing and then do it to the best of your ability. Don-t listen to those people that tell you something is not possible. Go out and prove them wrong.

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