Transition Camp commences as Westfield Matildas preparations enter new phase
With the countdown to Tokyo continuing, the Westfield Matildas are taking part in a transition camp in Sweden to further prepare for the tournament.
Speaking from camp, Westfield Matildas assistant coach Mel Andreatta explained the purpose of the camp ahead of squad selection and the first game against New Zealand in a few weeks.
“It’s all about preparation for performance at the Olympic Games. And we're excited that we have this extended length of time together as a squad, with the majority of players who are in contention for selection to work hard and continue to build on our playing style, and what we're known for, our conditioning.”
“So we started up today, it was a good session, a hard session. And the players know there's plenty of work to come, but excited about the preparation and the performance ahead with the Olympics on the horizon.” said Andreatta.
The camp gives players a chance to continue working within the national team set up as well as reignite and reinforce the chemistry and cohesion after the extensive COVID-19-induced break which saw the national team go without a game for almost 400 days.
“The transition camp is incredibly important. The time together will certainly achieve that, I believe, with what we have planned and together with the Sports Science/Sports Medicine (SSSM) team and the technical team, I think that that chemistry we'll see return come the start of the Olympics and our first game against New Zealand.”
Players have a chance to build on the well-established connections they have from years spent together playing at both club and country level.
Furthermore, this camp gives the players even more time to learn and adopt Tony Gustavsson’s philosophies for the team, which Andreatta has noted have already begun to take root since the first camp back in April.
“What is different is that when a new coach arrives and a playing style is sharpened, and it's been built around their strengths, it still takes time. Any change takes time. And that's what I've seen since the April camp, a clear step forward and building towards what we want to see from this group in a playing style that's built around them and their strengths to attack any opponent and not be afraid of anyone.”
Five players - Teagan Micah, Elise Kellond-Knight, Clare Polkinghorne, Emily Gielnik and Charlotte Grant - from the June camp returned to their clubs following the conclusion of the FIFA Window. For the other 20 players, they have been able to rest and recover between the end of the June window and the beginning of this transition camp.
Andreatta explained the importance of that mental and physical recovery period in light of how the coaching staff wants this Australian side to play.
“A playing style that's built on their strengths, on intensity, explosivity requires recovery then. That has to be as important as the work they do on the pitch and the players really are taking that on.” Andreatta explained.
“They've always been professional but they're again going to another level with their recovery strategies and working really closely with the SSSM team, and doing everything they can off the field to be that one day better, and do the extra little things in order to come to training each day and perform at their best.”
While some players are in camp, those that have returned to their clubs are also being monitored with the deadline for Tokyo squad selection looming.
For Gustavsson, Andreatta, and the rest of the coaching staff, there is still plenty of time for players – both in and out of camp – to prove themselves and book their ticket to Tokyo. Utilising this time is of the utmost importance for all players, according to Andretta.
“Really valuing that opportunity and taking every day as it comes and valuing the work each day, as much as the next day. That we really attack each day and the work that's ahead.” she said.
That's for the players here in the transition camp. And for those that are outside the transition camp. Certainly we are working closely with the players here. But we also are very much keeping a close eye on those players in contention for selection outside the transition camp.”
The Westfield Matildas Transition Camp will be held in Sweden before the selected Olympic squad departs for Japan in early July.
The final squad announcement will be made in the coming weeks with Australia’s first game against New Zealand scheduled for July 21st.