Colthorpe - Matildas quiet achiever

Sally Shipard chats with her Matildas team mate Lauren Colthorpe.

She may be a quite achiever amongst the more well-known of the Matildas ranks but midfielder Lauren Colthorpe has become a regular in the national team over the past year and is now ready to stamp her mark on the world stage.

Lauren has now appeared in the Australian jersey 13 times since debuting for the national team as a 21-year-old just on two years ago.

Despite an unassuming nature, Colthorpe has full confidence in the abilities of the Aussie squad as they go into next Wednesday's opening group match against Ghana at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup. It is a squad-wide assurance which has the Australian squad also brimming with quite self-belief for their other group matches against Canada and Norway.

"We possess the experience and determination to make it out of our group and we will be more than prepared for what the teams have to throw at us in the quarters, semi's and then the Final," says Colthorpe.

“Every game is going to be tough; we will definitely be taking the tournament one game at a time.”

The team is quite used to travelling extensively to play international matches and the experience of flying to and from these destinations can be quite boring at times. However travelling to China for the World Cup was different and not just because of the excitement that this tournament generates.

In the stopover at Hong Kong, Lauren and yours truly had an experience that we could only dream about and gave us a real buzz. The famous faces we bumped into were none other than the Argentinean football team that were on their way to play our male counterparts next week. We certainly made the most of the opportunity and grabbed a photo which included the Messi and Javier Saviola.

“It not every day you come face to face with some of the superstars of the game,” she said. “They were really nice and were more than happy to have a photo with us.”

Lauren was born and raised in Newcastle with four brothers and one sister. Her father is a dental practitioner and her mother, gave up opera singing, to take care of their six children.

Her first junior club was the Warner Bay Panthers before representing the Macquarie area and then selection for Northern NSW at the National Championships. Her first opportunity to represent Australia was with the Young Matildas at the 2004 World Youth Cup in Thailand, when she was 18 years old. Since then Colthorpe has made the most of her opportunities and has cemented her position in the senior Matildas squad.

During training sessions Lauren is continually reminded by her team-mates to take it easy when tackling, she's a competitive soul, which is a characteristic she had picked up long before taking up football. Growing up in a family of eight, one has to be competitive in order to survive.

"When mum would arrive home with all the groceries if you didn't jump on the food, then it would all be gone within 20 minutes, you always have to remain switched on in my household."

From fighting her brothers for groceries, racing them in the backyard and playing soccer down at the local park, it didn't matter Lauren had to win.

You could say, because of this competitive nature Lauren has exceeded in all parts of her life. Like most of her team-mates she is balancing the commitments of part-time work, study and playing football. Travelling extensively with the Matildas this year has caused Lauren to miss her end of semester exams, which have been re-scheduled 3 times.

"They had a special examination period, but we were in camp for that as well, so I had to complete mine solo in the second week of next semester. I had to study over the Uni holidays which any student dreads!"

The same thing happened to Lauren last year so it's something she is used to. The Elite Athlete advisor system implemented at the Newcastle University has been very helpful and they have been lenient with her sporting commitments. Lauren is employed through the Northern NSW Football Federation and will take coaching clinics at schools at least three times a week.

Colthorpe has continually had trouble with her knees since she can remember. During a practice match at the AIS a few months ago Lauren received a hit on her knee and has been advised that she needs to rest for several weeks for it to repair, but being so close to the World Cup she couldn't afford to take any extended period out of the game.

"I got a big whack in a game which aggravated and damaged the articular cartilage just below my knee cap. It won't get worse if I train on it, so at the moment I'm putting up with the pain. I will have my break after the World Cup."

As far as the future and what lies ahead for Colthorpe it-s an exciting prospect, both for her and Australian Women's Football. Her future plans entail a degree in podiatry, preferably sports related. Playing football overseas at some stage, while maintaining her position in the Matildas squad and eventually cementing a starting 11 position.

"My ultimate goal as far as my football is to represent Australia at the Olympics and a World Cup event and have a successful campaign. We are certainly not around to make up the numbers in these prestige tournaments."

Helping the younger players to develop is also high on Lauren's Priority list and maybe one day the Matildas will require full-time podiatrist on the staff who also just happens to be an international standard all-action midfielder!