‘Staj gave me two minutes notice’: Westfield Matilda embarks on radical shift

It’s pitch black and freezing cold in the early hours of the morning on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Most of the country is asleep. But not one of the Westfield Matildas’ most promising young players.

READ: ‘She has the rarest ability in football’: 15-year-old earns shock call up

SQUAD: Westfield Matildas squad named for Tournament of Nations defence

Instead, Larissa Crummer is hard at work, in the midst of a potentially career-defining transition from deadly striker to ruthless defender. All while displaying the kind of discipline, commitment and hard work required to make it through the hard times as a professional footballer.

“When I’m at home, I work full time as a plumber with my dad,” explained the 22-year-old to matildas.footballaustralia.com.au.

READ: 'We go to the Tournament of Nations with the ambition to win it'

ULTIMATE GUIDE: Get to know about our Tournament of Nations opponents

“I get up quite early — at 4am — so I can smash out my gym work every morning. Then I start work at 6am so I can knock off at 2pm and drive two hours straight down to Brisbane for training. Then back, and repeat that for six days a week.”

It’s been a gruelling schedule for the former Sydney FC, Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City Westfield W-League player, who has already earned 20 senior national team caps to her name after bursting onto the scenes in 2015.

A key part of that routine has also involved a four-hour regular round trip to Brisbane, where she has been training with Brisbane Roar’s Under-16 academy boys.

“My routine has obviously taught me a lot about discipline — that’s a big one,” Crummer added. 

“Also mental strength. At the end of the day, if I don’t this stuff myself, no one’s going to do it. 

“If I don’t get up at 4am and do my gym work, how am I going to get better? It’s all about discipline.”

It’s that kind of attitude that has impressed Westfield Matildas head coach Alen Stajcic, who handed Crummer a call up to his 21-player squad for the Tournament of Nations in the United States.


Crummer has also been away to Portugal and Jordan as part of the Westfield Matildas’ 2018 Algarve Cup and AFC Women’s Asian Cup squads.

Yet more recently, Crummer travelled to Indonesia as both captain of the Westfield Young Matildas and the team’s only over-age player where the youth national team took on senior opposition in the AFF Women’s Championship.

Larissa Crummer Young Matildas
Larissa Crummer captained the Westfield Young Matildas in Indonesia
Young Matildas AFF Championship 2018
Larissa Crummer captained the Westfield Young Matildas in Indonesia

There, the towering, tattooed figure was the lynchpin in defence as she continued her adaption to a new role at the opposite end of the pitch. 

“We’re still trying to find the best fit for Crummer,” explained Stajcic to matildas.footballaustralia.com.au.

“She’s still coming back from a nearly two-year lay off with injury. 

“She’s done well in different positions for us and we’re still in an experimental phase trying to find out where she fits best going forward.”

The new Future Matildas program has proved a vital testing ground for Crummer to adapt on the field, with Australian-based Westfield Matildas such as Lisa De Vanna, Chloe Logarzo, Emily Gielnik and co. joining in to play regular mid-week games alongside some of the younger members of the program.

It was there where Crummer learned of her new role.

Larissa Crummer
Larissa Crummer played for the Westfield Matildas as a teenager at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup

“Staj told me about two minutes before I walked out onto the field,” Crummer explained. 

“It was midweek and they needed someone to fill in at centre back after one of the girls went off [at half-time] and he was like ‘Crums, go sit at the back for five minutes’. 

“Next thing you knew, 45 minutes was down and he said I’d played well and he’d keep me there.

“I’ve played at fullback under Staj before — in my first season in the W-League at Sydney FC but other than that I’d always been a No.9.

“Since then I’ve been in touch with a few centre backs that I know and I’ve sat down and watched games with them, plus I’ve had feedback from Gary [van Egmond, Westfield Matildas assistant coach and Future Matildas head coach] and Staj when I’m in working with them. 

“I’ve been watching centre backs play and just trying to develop my skills as much as possible.”

An important element of Crummer’s development as a defender has been travelling with the Westfield Young Matildas, where the 22-year-old was in the unfamiliar position of being the oldest, most experienced player in the ground — which also contains squad debutants Amy Sayer (16) and Mary Fowler (15).

“I’ve always been used to being the youngest player in the squad so to come away and be the oldest by about three years has been different,” Crummer explained. 

“I’ve had enough knowledge from observing what I wanted when I was the youngest to know what they would want. So it’s been about trying to help develop them, keep them calm in this kind of environment.

Mary Fowler Young Matildas
15-year-old Mary Fowler has earned a call up
Amy Sayer
16-year-old Amy Sayer is another fresh call up

“I’m quite a quiet person and I’ve been out of my comfort zone in Indonesia, having to be loud and more of a leader with the group but that will really help me going into Tournament of Nations.

“We want to go into this year’s tournament and show we can do that again and I believe we can.

“For me, I just want to learn as much as I can about that centre back role, with Polks [Clare Polkinghorne] and Alanna [Kennedy] and to pick up what I can and push for some game time.”

Beyond the Tournament of Nations, Crummer also has one thing clearly in her sights — the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, with the upcoming Westfield W-League season crucial to her returning to regular club football in a bid to forge a spot in the heart of the Westfield Matildas’ defence.

Crummer admitted: “I haven’t found a W-League club yet and I’m working to find a club where I can fit what the coach needs but also be in an environment where I can learn.

“I want to be challenged with how to play as a centre back. I want to make sure I can peak around the World Cup so if I can learn as much as I can during the W-League and also peak at the right time.”

Follow the Westfield Matildas in action at the Tournament of Nations with every game live on Fox Sports...

Brazil v Westfield Matildas
Date: Thursday, 26 July 2018 (local)
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas
Kick-off: 3.15pm (local) (6.15am AEST – Friday, 27 July 2018)
Broadcast: LIVE in Australia on FOX SPORTS 507

USA v Westfield Matildas
Date: Sunday, 29 July 2018 (local)
Venue: Pratt & Whitney Stadium, East Hartford, Connecticut
Kick-off: 7pm (local) (9am AEST – Monday, 30 July 2018)
Broadcast: LIVE in Australia on FOX SPORTS 505

Westfield Matildas v Japan
Date: Thursday, 2 August 2018 (local)
Venue: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois
Kick-off: 4.45pm (local) (7.45am AEST – Friday, 3 August 2018)
Broadcast: LIVE in Australia on FOX SPORTS