Polkinghorne: "It's an important time for us to really continue to grow the game"

Westfield Matildas defender Clare Polkinghorne hopes to use her knowledge and experience to help shape the future of Australian football.

Polkinghorne is an inaugural member of the ‘Starting XI’ - an initiative that will act in an advisory capacity on technical and development matters for the FFA.

With more than 100 internationals for Australia, and a veteran of four FIFA Women’s World Cups and four AFC Women’s Asian Cups,  Polkinghorne is enthusiastic about passing on those years of learnings.

“It’s a really positive initiative that has been undertaken,” Polkinghorne said.

Being part of the Starting XI, I can hopefully pass on my football experiences in this country with the broader aim of growing the game in Australia.”

“I think that a key part of this initiative is being able to expand football and continue its development in this country.”

Since debuting for the Westfield Matildas in 2006, the 31-year-old has enjoyed a 14-year football career that has spanned the globe with stints in Japan and the United States.

Polks 2019 WWC
Clare Polkinghorne at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019

In Australia, Polkinghorne came through the famed Queensland football pathway which produced dozens of national team players.  In short, she has seen the breadth of the Australian pathway. 

It means that, for Polkinghorne, her motivation is about building on the gains in women’s football over the past two decades. 

MORE: Experienced ‘Starting XI’ to help drive Australian football forward
MORE: FFA Podcast: In conversation with ... 2006 Westfield Young Matildas

The defender also desires to participate in dialogue to improve the future of women’s football, giving players the opportunity to step onto the international sphere and follow in her considerable footsteps.

“I've been lucky enough to be a part of the Matildas in a period where there has been some pretty rapid growth, on and off the field,” she said.

“We've come a long way in the last five, six years.  But we can't really stop or take a backwards step, we need to keep progressing the game.”

“That is in all parts of the game; it’s grassroots, and national teams, it's the developmental pathways.” 

We need to ensure we're focusing on growing the whole game and I think everyone has a role to play in that.”  

Polkinghorne is joined by fellow Westfield Matildas greats Heather Garriock, Joey Peters and Connie Shelby.

While Vicki Linton, a respected name in coaching and player development, has also been added to the panel alongside another respected coaching figure in Ron Smith. 

Former Socceroos Mark Bosnich, Josip Skoko, Mark Viduka, Frank Farina, Paul Okon round out the elite group. 

“There have been so many fantastic players who have represented Australia and pulled on the jersey,” she said.

“We really need to tap into that to help grow the game.”

“Through their experiences and what it means to play for Australia, which is something not many get an opportunity to do, we can definitely learn a lot from the things that people have experienced through their careers as players and coaches.”

“I've probably got a little bit a different perspective to some of the other players that are a part of the Starting XI, and hopefully I can bring a more contemporary view and more recent experiences.”