Jo Peters - 100 not out

Matildas injured midfielder Sally Shipard interviews her team mate Jo Peters on reaching 100 national team appearances.

Recently Jo Peters made her 100th appearance for the Matildas. Her Matildas team mate Sally Shipard, is currently injured and is doing a Media and Communications university degree. Sally caught up with Jo ahead of the Matildas Olympic qualifying match against Chinese Taipei.

Sally Shipard (SS): Congratulations on reaching 100 caps with the Matildas. What was the feeling like when you ran onto the field in that game? Was it extra special?

Joey Peters (JP): I tried to play it like any other match; the actual game itself didn-t feel different. It was nice to score I must say. After the game there was a chance for post-match celebration. Two people who were present when my international career first started were also there to witness my 100th game which added to the excitement of it all. Tom Sermanni was coach at the time of my debut and is now our current coach, while Sonya Gegenhuber was a team-mate at the time and is now the equipment manager for the Matildas. It was also nice having team-mates and other coaching staff to celebrate with as we were away from our families and friends.

SS: In order to represent your country 100 times, how has your life been shaped as a result of your commitment to the game?

JP: Life as a footballer - the most rewarding thing for me is I have travelled the world; I have been dragged out of my comfort zone and taken away from my securities. I have learnt how to persevere. We don-t work a 9-5 job; I have not chosen to live a ‘normal- life. We play professionally without the rewards of a professional athlete. It has taken me up until now to appreciate how lucky I have been to experience this lifestyle. Its character building, you learn about yourself and life in general.

SS: Do you think playing overseas has been beneficial for you developing as a player?

JP: Again being out of your comfort zone, experiencing different cultures, different playing styles and training regimes have all helped me in my development as a player. It was great to be able to compare myself to other elite female footballers and to see where I was at in terms of the rest of the world. It was very challenging travelling by myself in unfamiliar places and in some cases I had the language barrier to overcome. All these experiences have added to my overall knowledge of the game.

SS: Heading to Griffith a few weeks ago...What was it like for you to go back to the country? You seemed pretty excited on the bus when you started recognising local towns and the surroundings...

JP: Childhood is a very special time in our lives. I am surprised as to how much I enjoyed it as I had so many fond memories heading back to the Riverina. After all this was the place where football all started for me, I was introduced to the game when I was a youngster in Leeton. It was great to see the girls of all ages getting involved, it was fantastic opportunity for us to encourage them all to participate and promote not only the Women-s game but football throughout the Griffith community.

SS: How have you found the Olympic qualifying stages so far? Have you found it hard adapting to the new/unfamiliar qualifying process? Is it as competitive as you would like?

JP: There-s so much variation between the opposition we are up against. Here we are preparing for a game where we have to score as many goals as we can because no doubt it will affect our goal difference later on. Where as in 6 weeks it will be the toughest game we have all had to face. You have to be mentally strong in these games, the standard of competition is irrelevant, you have to be able to prepare yourself and the team has to perform. It would be nice to have consistently high level games but that-s football and we have to do it.

SS: Obviously the must win games are against North Korea. Are you looking forward to returning to Australia and training hard for the next 6 weeks before the two big games?

JP: The two AIS camps will be crucial for us girls to really click and fine tune our preparation for the North Korean games. It will be nice when this stage is over so we can really focus on the two final games of our qualification process. However it is one step at a time, and we will be focusing on this game on Sunday against Chinese Taipei as much as we will be against North Korea in 6 weeks time.

SS: I'm aware that its one step at a time but will these 'qualifying rounds' assist with the Matildas preparation for the World Cup in September?

JP: Any games are beneficial, international games are a good experience and a chance for the team to progress and develop. Even though the games are not of a high standard there is still the environment of an international and the travelling we have all grown accustomed to. Every little bit we experience together will help in our preparation for the World Cup in Beijing.

SS: Hows the team shaping up for this Sunday? After the flight…Any more injuries...How will you guys be approaching this game?

JP: We have played at the exact same field a bit over a month ago; we are staying at the same hotel. We are all very familiar with the surroundings and all feel quite comfortable. Our opposition we have played before and keeping the North Koreas 8-0 win in the back of our minds will only provide us with more incentive to be scoring goals. Apart from the injuries sustained just prior to leaving Australia with Jenna Tristram and Danielle Small, our squad is injury free. We will have no problem staying motivated and be hungry for goals during the game on Sunday.

SS: How are you feeling? Fitness wise, are you in form?

JP: It is hard to know how ‘fit- or how ‘in form- I am when we have only played internationals at this level since late last year. I-m content with how I am at the moment; my aim is to peak for those matches against North Korea. The team dynamics have been changing and its great having players such as Collette McCallum in the middle of the park playing so well. It releases the pressure of me to perform so well in midfield, which I had felt in the past. I can relax a bit more when I-m out on the pitch. I feel like I have more freedom as a player.

SS: I know it-s a long time away, but is there a sense of anticipation about the World Cup and are there any expectations among the team about how far we can go?

JP: Having the draw next week is a sign that the World Cup is not far away, it-s very exciting to soon know who we will be up against in Beijing. I really believe we can take that next step and qualify for the quarter finals. We have never reached this stage before and anything can happen from there. I feel now as a team we have more experience with the knockout level, and I think we will handle the pressures of that kind of football. The do or die stuff.

SS: and finally, you have reached 100 caps and are still only 28. 150 caps would seem very achievable if you continue playing. Have you set your sights any further than the World Cup and Beijing if we get there in terms of your career?

JP: I could realistically look beyond another World Cup or Olympics assuming my body holds up. The decision I make will depend on the stage I-m at with my life at the time. Post 2008 Olympics will be an appropriate time for me to re-evaluate the stage I-m at and to have a good look at other things in my life that I can plan for. I-m not concerned with retirement or making that decision, not yet anyway. I will see when I reach that point in time. For now bring on the World Cup this year and the Olympic Games!