Matilda star Caitlin Foord drops in on Illawarra Stringrays to foster next generation’s skills

Matilda star Caitlin Foord drops in on Illawarra Stringrays to foster next generation’s skills

Disguised as a ground’s keeper, Matildas star Cailtin Foord dropped in on her junior club the Illawarra Stingrays in the days before the World Cup, giving the young players the thrill of a lifetime. 

The striker had selected her old club to feature in a snack food commercial that’s been released for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The players, including under-14s Ruby Harrow, had an inkling something was going on when a film crew showed up at their training session in Wollongong.


“We were just playing our normal soccer and what I thought was an older man, looked like a ground’s keeper asked to have a kick, and I was like he’s got some skills and then he kicks a goal,” she said.

“Then he takes his hat off and it was actually Caitlin Foord. It was so cool.”

Teenagers playing soccer with the ground's keeper

From a distance, the players’ parents filmed the moment the ground’s keeper, Foord in disguise, joined the training session.(Supplied: Illawarra Stingrays)

‘I actually passed to Caitlin Foord’

For Ruby, the training session left her with a moment to treasure.


“[Foord] played the ball to me and then I did a one-two with her and then we scored off it. I actually passed to Caitlin Foord, a Matilda player,” she said.

“It’s engraved in my mind.”

Two teenage girls kick a football to each other

Bella Spinks and Ruby Harrow are determined more than ever to chase their football dreams.(ABC Illawarra: Kelly Fuller)

Ruby’s teammate Bella Spinks said she thought something special might be about to happen.


“I had to assume with all the cameras that something was going on,” she said.

“She joined our training session, had a bit of kick with us, and then we got to meet her properly, ask her questions and get her signature.”

Young girls in a soccer uniform stands with arms folded and foot on the ball

Aaliah Gaudiosi says her jaw dropped when she realised it was Caitlin Foord.(ABC Illawarra: Kelly Fuller)

Ten-year-old Aaliah Gaudiosi said her “jaw dropped” when she realised who it was dressed in disguise.


“She was dressed up as a ground’s keeper, it was really funny, and asked to join the training session and then she scored, and we were like all amazed – and then we realised it was Caitlin Foord,” Aaliah said. 

Since the surprise training session, the girls have been glued to the World Cup and most travelled to Sydney to watch the Matildas play their first match against Ireland.

Bella said the players had taken Foord’s training tips and on-field performance as inspiration for their own games.

“Her one-on-one on a player up the line, she owns that position,” she said.

“In my game, that is definitely something that I can adapt into my skills and improve on for myself and, from watching her, I think I can improve.”


Incredible opportunity

Illawarra Stingrays Club president Kathy McDonough was fiercely proud of her club and the players it was producing.

“We’re the only all-women club in the NPL, National Premier League, and we wear that like a diamond in the crown,” she said.

Six women stand with their arms folded

Kathy McDonough, who is wearing the pink scarf, is incredibly proud of the club’s success.(ABC Illawarra: Kelly Fuller)

“It is a big family. We look after the girls from our sassy under-10s all the way to our fierce, strong first grade.


“It’s not just about building talented soccer players; it’s about building talented representatives and you only have to look at Mary Fowler and Caitlin Foord to see that we are doing the right thing.”

Two girls wearing soccer uniforms stand back to back with arms crossed.

Bella Spinks and Ruby Harrow are confident the Matildas can win the World Cup.(ABC Illawarra: Kelly Fuller)

Ms McDonough said she was delighted Foord selected the club to be involved in the experience.

“The Illawarra Stingrays were the first all-women’s club and all-women’s team that she [Foord] played for and she values that, and she sees the challenges that women’s football faces and it was her idea to give back to the Stingrays,” she said.


“She was so gracious and a really salt of the earth ‘gong girl, and so accommodating.

“It is cliched to say but you can’t be what they can’t see, but at the Stingrays they can be what they can see.”

Ms McDonough said was hopeful the World Cup would bridge the gap between the Matildas, NPL, and regional football.

“At the moment it is a massive gap and I just hope that gap shortens and shortens,” she said.

“We need better facilities, it’s pretty systemic everywhere for women’s sport, and I am hoping the legacy of the World Cup is that it will start to trickle down now and create better support for the girls.”


Motivation in spades

Bella said the opportunity coinciding with the World Cup was driving her determination to chase her football dream.

“She [Foord] was on this field once and now I am on this field. I strive to be like her, to get to where she is and being able to meet her and knowing that I came exactly where she came from, it’s an incredible thought.”

Ruby Harrow has found similar motivation.

“She’s an inspiration. It’s so cool the Stingrays are a pathway to the Matildas.”

Two junior female soccer players with Caitlin Foord.


Aaliah Gaudiosi (left) meets her hero Caitlin Foord.(Supplied: Illawarra Stingrays)

Aaliah said she felt the same way.

“I think she is one of the best players in the Matildas and she is a big inspiration for me.”


Source link



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here