The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is well under way in France and Australia’s best and brightest female footballers, the Matildas, are right in the thick of the action!
Bringing together teams from 24 countries across all the continents on Earth, this is the biggest contest in women’s football. The Australian team faces some tough competition in the first round stages with matches against Italy, Jamaica and Brazil just the first hurdle on their World Cup journey.
Matildas midfielder Aivi Luik took some time out from her busy training schedule to share with Kidzone her experiences …
What would you say are the qualities of a Matilda?
Talent, resilience, discipline and a never-say-die attitude.
What kinds of team bonding activities do you do?
Most of us love our coffee so we spend a lot of downtime at cafes, chatting or playing Bananagrams or card games like Word Spiel.
Other than the football, what is the best thing about being a part of the FIFA Women’s World Cup?
Being able to fight and compete with some of your best friends!
Which teams are you most looking forward to playing against?
Of course we want to win the World Cup and in doing so we have to play some of the top nations so for me these games would be the most challenging and therefore the most satisfying. However, we need to take each game as it comes, so I would have to say our opener against Italy!
Teams from all over the world are competing; what have you learned from these other teams when you have faced them on the field?
That no team can be taken lightly. The standard of women's football has improved incredibly, and this is the World Cup where anything can happen!
What first drew you to playing football?
What drew me to football was watching the 1994 men's (FIFA) World Cup in the United States. I was nine and I fell in love with the whole spectacle of it all — the game itself with all the freedom and creativity it had to offer as well as how it brought people of all nations together and put their cultures on display. I then started playing in the backyard and on the streets and in the parks and then joined Palm Beach Soccer Club at 11 years old.
What is your pre-game routine?
Eat well, call my family and say a prayer.What country has been your favourite to play in? It's hard to give just one favourite because I have had a lot of great experiences in each country I’ve played in. I had a really good season in Denmark with Brøndby IF. We won the double (the league and the cup) and made the Champions League quarter finals. Danish people are just fantastic, so I guess if I had to say one it'd be Denmark.
Soccer really is the world game. It is the most popular sport on the planet and there are 211 FIFA associations around the world. That’s a lot of dribbling, headers, passes and tackles! As Aivi says, nothing brings people of all nations together quite like the FIFA World Cup. All the things that make us different (like culture, religion, politics) are set aside as soccer fans all over the world focus on all the stuff we have in common. It’s a lot like how things are in God’s family. Paul writes in the Bible that, from God’s perspective, it doesn’t matter what country you come from, whether you’re a girl or boy, rich or poor – we are all equal and we all belong to Jesus (Galatians chapter 3, verses 28 and 29).