Having just returned from Rio, Matildas midfielder Katrina Gorry shares with the PFA what it meant to become an Olympian, the resolve of the team and why the W-League is critical to the long term success of Australian football.

Athletes across the globe dream of becoming an Olympian, but whilst the dream is shared by many few get the opportunity to call themselves one. On the fourth of August when Katrina Gorry and her Matildas teammates stepped onto the pitch in Brazil for their opening match of the 2016 Olympics they became Olympians.

“Walking out on to the field to play against Canada was living the dream. I have always had, and all the girls had, dreamt the same dream and to look up into the stands and see my family there with me was definitely a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life,” said Gorry. “It was a massive qualification process; a big roller coaster for most of us, most of the players had not been to an Olympics before. We knew it was a massive occasion and it took a big effort to get there in the first place, and to compete.”

Despite the joy at following in the footsteps of Australian football legends Cheryl Salisbury and Joey Peters, in having represented Australia at an Olympics, the opening game with Canada would not go to plan with the Matildas losing 2-0.

Far from despondent the Matildas would bounce back and draw 2-2 with the two time World Champion Germany in their second group match.

“We were very disappointed with game one and it wasn’t what we planned, but we knew how close our Olympic dream was to being over and we knew we had to pull together against Germany. We had to regroup and figure out tactically what we were going to do and I think it worked really well and if we were a bit more clinical we would have scored more.

“We knew how the game was going to go and then when we matched them for the first five minutes or even dominated I knew we were good enough to beat them and throughout the match I had to pinch myself thinking we are actually on top here and we can win. We always had the belief, but I guess we instilled that further in ourselves in the first five minutes.”

A 6-1 win over Zimbabwe ensured their progress to the knock-out stages where they faced the hosts Brazil. Far from being daunted by the challenge, Gorry said it was something the Matildas relished.

“We knew before the draw came out that we would have to face Brazil or the USA and we didn’t really care who it was and we knew it would a be full house,” said the Brisbane Roar midfielder. “We had Nat Cook (Olympic Gold Medal Winner – Beach Volleyball) speak to us before Rio  and she told us how when she played against Brazil she just imagined they were Aussies cheering her on and we took a similar approach.

“I don’t think we played our best game, losing on penalties is always tough and very brutal on individuals, but we were unlucky not to go through to the next round.

With the Matildas having consistently demonstrated the potential of the nation’s elite female footballers Gorry said the challenge for the game was to build on the success of the past twelve months.

“I think we need to stay on top of our development programs and make sure our mini and young Matildas have the best possible preparation for tournaments and getting them playing regularly against world class teams and keeping on developing our younger generation.

“We need to have more depth and have a wider selection of players and I think that will help to improve the Matildas and grow the game. The countries that are in the top 5 in the world have professional leagues and we need to get the best international players playing here. Getting more televised games and having two full rounds of the W-League would help us to do that.”