2010 Asian Cup Rewind: Kate Gill - “I stuck my hand up to do it.”

Kate Gill was one of the Westfield Matildas' key forward in their 2010 AFC Women's Asian Cup campaign.  The one time captain and highest all time goalscorer looks back at the tournament a decade on.   

It was a moment that Australia had found few and far between - the ball deep in their own half.  In a semi final against tournament favourites Japan, Servet Uzunlar served in a ball to the tall target of Kate Gill.  

The striker headed the ball on and barely before she recovered, it was back at her feet.  

“it was deep in our half, just passed on halfway line and I remember the ball coming in,” Gill remembered.

“I managed to get a touch on it, just to click it on back into the box to see where it went up and [I turned] around and it came back towards me and I saw the keeper had just kind of moved off the line, I just put my foot through it and it went into the goal."

Despite all the pressure the Japanese team would put on the Westfield Matildas' defence, Gill's goal would stand at the end of 90+ minutes as the separator between the two Asian heavyweights.  

 

After losing her strike partner and roommate Lisa De Vanna in the previous match against China, Gill and the Aussies were determined to  secure not only their spot in the final, but also their spot in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 held in Germany the following year.

"We were at times on our knees just trying to make sure that we could keep the ball away from the goal mouth.  I think it hit every aspect of the bar, the sidebar, the crossbar, everything!"

“I think there was a release of pressure when we won the Japan game," she said. 

"We knew that we were there for purpose, to qualify for the World Cup and winning the tournament was the icing on the cake that came along with that.”

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That icing on the cake came after the conclusion of injury time, where the Westfield Matildas’ and DPR Korea were tied 1-1 in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup final.  That meant only one thing in football – it was off to the penalty shootout.

Gill laughs as she remembers during the huddle that Australian coach, Tom Sermanni was quite eager for the penalties to be over and done with and this attitude rubbed off on her, as she thought it would not be too bad to take the shot.

“I was happy to stick my hand up and do it. I was pretty confident that I was going to put the ball in the back of the net,” Gill said.

I think it's that first initial relief when it does go in the back of the net and then you get to turn around and celebrate, it's a good feeling.”

The silverware that Australia brought home was the first of its kind, something that each of the players in the tournament continually reflect on today. It was just not a win for themselves, the win had just become a part of Australia’s sporting history.

Gill is just as grateful for the women who she shared the experience with, and how well they were able to perform with the resources available ten years ago.

“It's pretty special at the time it was the first major silverware for any Australian national team so to be a part of that in itself was fantastic,” she said.

When I look back, the players that I got to do it with were just such a great team, just such a great bunch of females that was so strong, so resilient.

Since the success of the 2010 Westfield Matildas’ side, women's football has come a long way. The Westfield Matildas’ themselves have earned the right to become a household name.

Aspiring footballers, female and male, look up at the women's national side, hoping one day to follow in the footsteps of some of their heroes. This is something that Gill is proud to have played a role in instilling for an upcoming generation of sportswomen.  

“To be able to have girls that aspire to be Matildas’, that's fantastic! When I was younger, I had no recollection that we even had a senior women's national team,” she said.

I’m so grateful the game has come on in leaps and bounds. The way that they play the game today, I don't think I could keep up with the level that is going on there.”

Since retiring playing football, Gill now works with Professional Footballers Australia to continue to make football better for the generations to come. Looking back a decade on, Gill is proud to have been part of a group of players who put women's football in the Australian history books.  

“It’s so pleasing to see the game come so far, but to be part of something so special with the significant group of people that is what resonates strongly with me.”