Yet to make her international debut, Nicole Sykes is as excited as anyone to be in camp with the Westfield Matildas ahead of Sunday’s match against China.
There is always a sense of excitement for players coming into camp with the Westfield Matildas. The level of camaraderie and thrill of donning the Aussie tracksuit dissipates little regardless of how many years experience a player may boast on the resume.
It is unlikely though that anyone had the same sense of excitement this week as Nicole Sykes. The Canberra United defender is featuring in her first Matildas squad with her twin sister Ashleigh, who was also called up in a rare double.
Nicole remains uncapped at senior level, while Ashleigh made four appearances way back in 2008 as a raw teenager.
Though only 21, Nicole was also named Canberra United captain just prior to the recent start of the Westfield W-League season. To say it has been a big month for the Sykes family would be an understatement.
Now the sisters have the opportunity to play together wearing the Green & Gold when China PR are the opponents in Wollongong on Sunday (3pm) and Sydney on Wednesday (7pm).
“It-s very exciting, and I was pretty nervous coming in,” said Nicole. “I knew quite a few of the girls from the W-League or elsewhere. It is just such a huge honour to be called in.”
It couldn-t be any further removed from a childhood spent growing up on a farm near Dubbo, some five hours west of Sydney, where competitive kick-arounds with her sister on the ochre-tinged grass were a constant.
“There is always banter between us and we are pretty competitive,” says Nicole of her sister laughing at the notion.
And understandably Nicole has allowed herself to dream about the prospect of representing Australia over the coming days.
“It is the kind of thing you dream of as a kid,” she said. “So I-m pretty excited to see how I train and the possibility of getting an opportunity, so I would want to make the most of it. And it is rare that we get to play in front of a home crowd.”
While Ashleigh plays in the forward line, Nicole has carved out a niche at full-back for Canberra, having played in numerous other positions earlier in her career.
“I have also played winger and centre back, but I-m not sure if that (being a utility) is a good thing or a bad thing,” she says with a smile.
An off-season, spent playing with Kristianstads in Sweden - the first club team she has been at without her sister - has proved beneficial and helped her momentum leading into the Westfield W-League campaign.
Canberra United share equal first with two wins from as many starts. So is she relishing leading Canberra out each week, or was it a little daunting at first? “It is pretty exciting. I have been around the team ever since I was 16, so I don-t really feel my age if you know what I mean.
“I have enjoyed the challenge so far. It is easy to enjoy when you are winning.”
Westfield Matildas v China PR 24 November 2013 Kick-off: 3pm WIN Stadium, Wollongong (First match only broadcast live nationally on ABC1, 2.50pm AEDT)
Westfield Matildas v China PR 27 November 2013 Kick-off: 7pm Pirtek Stadium, Parramatta
Tickets for the two matches can be purchased at www.footballaustralia.com.au/tickets Ticket Prices Adult - $20 Concession - $12 Junior - $12 Family - $56
Family: 2 Adults + 2 Juniors or 1 Adult + 3 Juniors Concession: Person holding a current Aged, Seniors, War, TPI or Invalid Card. NO STUDENTS. Patrons must show ID upon request. Junior: 3-16 years (inclusive). 2 years & under free on knee.