Photo: Rachel Bach / By the White Line
When Chloe Logarzo scored an all-important goal for the Westfield Matildas against Brazil at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019, it was not the crowning moment of her career but just the beginning.
In the Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier, the Westfield Matildas attacking midfielder felt like she finally had nothing to prove.
“For a long time I had played my football to the point where I own a lot of people,” Logarzo told the Westfield Matildas Podcast.
“I felt like I owed a lot of my footballing career to a lot of people, and I played for them. And I played for my family. And I played for the haters because I wanted to prove everyone wrong.
But in that moment, for that World Cup, I played for myself. It was the first time that I had ever played my career for me, and just solely for me, and I think that was the most exciting part of my career.”
That feeling of freedom was a long time coming. From her earliest football memories of playing alongside her twin brother Vince and with her older sister, the slight child grew into a waifish teenager who was often overlooked for youth or representative teams.
“I was always overshadowed for my size, and although I had a massive heart, and I tried as hard as I could, I was always falling short," she said.
“Growing up and not going through the New South Wales [youth football] system and never being picked for a state team back in those days, it was kind of really tough.”
“I kind of always got told that I wasn't good enough and that I wouldn't make it.”
For a player admired for her persistence and work ethic on the pitch, it was no surprise that the teenager finally made the breakthrough into the Sydney FC side as a 16-year-old. The following season Logarzo was not only a Westfield W-League champion but also a newly capped Matilda.
Despite that high, not long after Logarzo would be walking away from football after the disappointment of missing out of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 squad.
“For me at that time it was something that broke me,” she remembered. “I did not know how to take it or how to handle it.”
“At that time I thought that I did absolutely everything possible, all the right things, to be in that squad. And I was shattered. I was actually shattered, and it really took a toll on my life. For a long time after that I really resented football. I really hated it.”
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The 21-year-old quit the game and resolved to become a “normal person” – someone who no longer had the identity of footballer. During the months away from the game Logarzo took some time to travel the world with nothing more than a backpack, as well as taking on the role of landscape artist working 6 – 7 days a week.
While a much needed mental break, there was always the siren call of the game that was deep in her Italian/Scottish blood and soon the Sydneysider was back on the pitch with a new found resolve.
“I needed to take a step back and really realise that I had just scratched the surface of what I wanted to do in football.”
As I came back from my time away, I definitely didn't want to mess it up again. I think that at that point I realised that I just never wanted to pass this opportunity up again because if this was my one chance and if I mess it up again, it was never coming back around.”
Logarzo grabbed a hold of the second chance with both hands with the rejuvenated midfielder realising a dream of competing at an Olympic Games and a FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Nearing 50 caps for Australia, Logarzo is now a regular starter for the Westfield Matildas and a starter for her club sides – whether it’s Sydney FC, Washington Spirit or now Bristol FC in the FA Women’s Super League.
The move to Bristol, a move designed to push her comfort zone, is another indicator of Logarzo’s freedom to make the choices that are best for her football progression.
“For me it was almost a no brainer to move and play in England.
To play against different opposition, a different league where I don't really know and I'm unfamiliar. I feel like when I'm put in an unfamiliar position, I kind of thrive. I think being uncomfortable was what I needed, a little bit of change.”
For the moment the football is on hold in England, and around the world, but once it starts up again Chloe Logarzo wants to continue to make the most of her second chance in football. More importantly, she is ready to continue to become a more complete footballer for Australia.
“I have so many faults that I would love to work on, that I am still working on,” she stated.
“It would wrong to say that you are the footballer you want to be, because you want to always be growing.
“I am only now just scratching the surface of what I can do because I feel like I have gotten to a point in my career where I feel comfortable in how I play.
“I have played enough games now that I am not scared to be on the ball and not scared of anyone that I am playing against either.
“I have confidence in myself that I haven’t had before.”