Matildas midfielder Emily van Egmond goes 1v1 with the PFA to share her World Cup journey, the sacrifices, the highs, the lows and what needs to be done if the women’s game is to achieve its potential.

Q. Few people would be aware of just how intense the build-up to the World Cup was for the Matildas players; could you give us an insight into it?

EVE: Our first training camp was early in January straight after the W-League season and no one really had a break we just got straight into it. We had a seven-week tour of Europe not long after that first camp and we played in the Cyprus Cup before going to Italy for more games and training. After coming back to Australia we had a short break and we were pretty much straight back into it. Over the six months leading up to the World Cup we were in camp and preparing for all but a week and a half.


Q. Is it difficult to be away for that amount of time?

EVE: It was really hard for the girls that have day jobs, and trying to get that time off work would have been really hard for them. These are the sacrifices a lot of the players have to make. It is not just about jobs, look at Bubs (Melissa Barbieri) although she didn’t go to Europe she spent huge amounts of time away from her daughter Holly.


Q. What were the team’s ambitions ahead of the tournament?

EVE: We knew we had a tough group and a lot of people wrote us off but we knew we could get through the group and progress far into the tournament if we worked hard and put our heads down.


Q. What was that moment like coming out onto the pitch for the opening match of the World Cup?

EVE: Coming out against quality opposition like the USA you are always going to have some nerves but I have always been a true believer in that whatever happens in the first game is not going to define your tournament. There were a lot of positives to take out of the game but the negative was that we didn’t play out the full 90 minutes but we knew we would improve and get better.


Q. Did you see the second group match as a must win?

EVE: The girls treated it as a must win game and I was very confident going into it. I knew we had the talent to beat them and getting the win put us in a really strong position against Sweden in the next match.


Q. There was so much on the line in the Sweden match but you seemed to be fearless; is that how you felt as a team?

EVE: From beating Nigeria we had a lot of confidence and we were desperate to get out of the group and we knew exactly what we had to do. We didn’t want all our hard work to be for nothing.


Q. A lot of teams would have been daunted by the prospect of facing Brazil; how did you feel in the build-up to the match?

EVE: I was quietly confident. Four years ago in Germany we played Brazil and they had big names like Marta and Caitlin Foord kept her quite and we knew she could and would do it again. We were very disciplined and our defensive structure was really important. A big talking point for us was following up shots and Kyah (Simon) did that and we managed to get through.


Q. Did you understand at the time just how big of a moment it was for Australian football?

EVE: I was thinking ‘what is everyone going on about last World Cup we made it to the Quarter finals and we have just done it again’ and then someone said there were more teams this time round. It was great to be the first Australian team to win a knock out match at a World Cup.


Q. How difficult was the Japan result to take having built up so much momentum?

EVE: When we played Japan it was not our best performance and I was really disappointed as I thought it was there for the taking for us and it was difficult to accept.


Q. How do you look back on the World Cup?

EVE: We had really good feedback from other teams and that is great to hear but I want to get this team into a top two position as I believe that is where we belong. There will be a lot of factors to get us there but we have the potential.


Q. What are the factors that you are referring too?

EVE: If you are going to compare the women’s game to the men’s it is completely different. Most of girls have a day job or are studying and it is really hard to manage both especially when you have a schedule like we did before the World Cup. We have to get the girls to a professional level, as that is key if we are going to achieve our potential.


Q. Finally, you head to Germany to take up a 12-month contract and you miss the next W-League season; what was the motivation behind the move?

EVE: It is going to be great to be in a full-time environment for 12 months. Some of the best players in the world play in Germany and I don’t think I could ask for more and it is definitely going to help my development as a player. The W-League at the moment can’t compete with that professionalism but that is what we need to work to because otherwise we are going to be left behind.


Each week the PFA will go 1v1 with a current or former player to gain an insight into the lives of footballers on and off the pitch.

Image by Chad Gibson / Local FC.