Westfield W-League puts pair on international stage

The Westfield W-League was all about improving the standards of women’s football in Australia, with the flow on effect to benefit our national team the Westfield Matildas.

The Westfield W-League was all about improving the standards of women-s football in Australia, with the flow on effect to benefit our national team the Westfield Matildas.

There were a number who went a long way to proving that and two players Emily Van Egmond (Newcastle Jets) and Ellie Brush (Canberra United), certainly caught Westfield Matildas coach Tom Sermanni-s eye and he subsequently named them in the squad for the upcoming series against Italy that starts this Saturday at Parramatta Stadium in Sydney.

The pair, who are at varying points in their football careers, are participating in their first ever Westfield Matildas camp and taking it all in.

For Emily, daughter of Newcastle Jets coach Gary van Egmond, her call up to the senior squad has capped a remarkable few months for her which saw her called up for the Australian U-17 Women-s team and then the Westfield Young Matildas, to play in there respective qualifying tournaments.

Ellie on the other hand, has been on the fringes of national team selection at junior level, but never really progressed until a change of position, which has catapulted into national team calculations.

“It-s been really good, fun and exciting; it-s been a really good experience,” said Emily, after a tad hot training session out at Valentine Sports Park this morning.

“It-s (daunting) at times, but I love it. I think it-s just so much fun; it-s just the best,” Emily said like a real teenager, who is getting to train with many of the women-s players she has looked up to over the past few years.

“It has been a really big six months, but to able to have the experience of coming into the Matildas camp and learn what it-s really all about at international football level is pretty awesome.”

There is no doubt that as the rising star of junior women-s football, Emily-s experience among the Matildas will prove valuable come the AFC tournaments later this year, which she will no doubt be a part of.

“I have learnt a lot already and I-ve been here two days and something new each day, so hopefully I will be able to take a fair bit back into the young matildas and the 17-s.

“I just go out and have fun; do the best that you can and the more fun you have on the field, the better, I believe, you are going to do on the field.”

As for how the Westfield W-League has helped her game, the experience of playing with the likes of Matildas icons Cheryl Salisbury and Jo Peters has helped her enormously.

“The W-League was great and it even had girls from overseas wanting to come over. We had two imports in our team and they did extremely well for us.

“It was great to play alongside some of the big names in the Matildas like Cheryl and Joey Peters and it was a really good experience. I think I am maturing each day when I am around these experienced players.”

The road for Brush hasn-t been so easy, but the move from an attacking player to a more defence-minded player has paid dividends.

“I-ve certainly been around the fringes in Under 17 and Under 20 camps and that kind of thing,” Brush said.

“Back in the old WNSL days, I was playing as a striker or right midfielder, as a more attacking player. The last couple of years I have moved into defence and really taken to it and certainly been able to step up my game and that-s really the position that I am suited to.

“I think I was playing out of position, so just the move to the defence line has done wonders and I-ve been able to put my best foot forward there.”

The Westfield W-League certainly gave Brush her chance to shine, not only from a playing perspective, but the responsibility of the captaincy as well, despite having experienced Matildas in the side like Caitlin Munoz and Thea Slatyer, her central defensive partner.

“I was pretty happy; I was generally consistent and we defended quite well as a unit,” she said of her season with W-League runners-up Canberra United. “I played every game and with Thea Slatyer at the back as well, I was really comfortable there and I was quite happy with the way I was able to go about playing my football and be pretty successful as team as well.

“That was something a bit new,” she said of the captaincy. “I-ve been around the squad for a good four years now, so it was nice to take on a bit more responsibility.

“I didn-t know how I would go at first, but I have certainly enjoyed it.”

Brush has so far enjoyed her time with the national camp and gaining valuable experience. She hopes to be able to get some game time, especially for the second match against the Italians in front of home fans in Canberra.

“Yeah, it-s fabulous. It-s obviously a great learning experience and the girls have been great. The older girls such as Cheryl Salisbury and Kate McShea have been awesome, getting me into the team; helping me out; giving me little tips here and there and stuff like that.

“It-s a great environment and I am certainly learning a lot and enjoying my time.

“Really though I am inexperienced compared to those players, so I will just go along with the flow and try and do my best and hopefully I will get a game.

“In front of my home fans in Canberra would be nice. That would be awesome, a fairytale and a dream come true to do that. I would certainly put my hand up for that one,” Brush concluded.

The Westfield Matildas kick-off their two-game series on Saturday (January 31) afternoon at Parramatta Stadium, with kick-off at 4.00pm. The second match will be at Canberra Stadium on Saturday February 7, also kicking off at 4.00pm.

Both matches can be seen live on ABC 1.