Ahead of this weekend’s W-League Grand Final Matildas and Brisbane Roar midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight shares with the PFA what the build-up to the decider is like and the sacrifices needed to make it.

It had become almost guaranteed. Since the establishment of the W-League they had competed in every Grand Final, winning two. Last season for the first time in the history of the competition there was no Brisbane Roar in the decider.

When the 2013/2014 W-League season kicked off their resolve was to resume normal service and once again be there on Grand Final day. “It was a feeling of rock bottom last year to miss out on the Grand Final,” said the Roar midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight. “We had come from rock bottom last season climbing from sixth place to win the minor premiership so we were feeling so confident and then to have a loss in the semi-final and not to be able to take part in the Grand Final was gut wrenching.”

There is no such heartache this season after Kellond-Knight scored the only goal in the Roar’s win over Canberra United in the semi-final to seal their place in the final, where they will face Melbourne Victory. “We didn’t want to have the feeling we had last year of missing out but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said the Matildas star. “We didn’t have the best start to the season but we found some consistency towards the back half of the season and in the semi-final last week, we were desperate to ensure we didn’t experience the same sense of disappointment.”

Having already appeared in four of the five W-League Grand Finals, and been on the winning side twice, the Gold Coast product said the buzz in the lead-up to the match remained just as strong.

“The Grand Final is not just about the match it is the Grand Final week and every session this week there is hype and anticipation and people are on edge. The media attention is a lot more but it is important to stay as relaxed as possible in the lead up.

“Compared to the first Grand Final I played in it is very different. I remember being a young player and having experienced players around me. We had really stampeded through that league and we had a really strong squad and almost went through undefeated so we had a really strong feeling that we were going to win that Grand Final.

“I’m vice captain now so I have a lot more responsibility in the group and I can’t just look after myself anymore, I have to look after every player in the team.
Now the league is also so much tighter and there is nothing between the top four and it is much more competitive.”

In an environment where everyone is capable of beating everyone Kellond-Knight said the key to success on Grand Final day was preparation.

“You have to manage your emotions in the build-up. The night before you don’t want to hype up too early and play the game the night before, so you try to relax. The morning of it you start switching-on and thinking of your role in the game and visualising what can happen. It might be about the goal scoring chances you are going to get.”

Having to juggle work, Masters studies, W-League and Matildas commitments all at the same time the midfielder said days like Grand Finals were the reason why she put her self through such a packed schedule.

“It is not just physically taxing it is also mentally taxing and I don’t get a lot of time to myself. I don’t get as much time as I would like to devote to football. I would like to be able to watch more football and be involved in the sport more but I have to think into the future.

“When you have to make so many sacrifices to continue playing football Grand Finals are massive. This means the world to us, it has to because otherwise we would not sacrifice so much.”

W-League Grand Final : Melbourne Victory v Brisbane Roar
Date: Sunday 23 February 2014
Venue:  Lakeside Stadium, Melbourne
Kick-off: 3pm

Catch all the action Live* at 3.00pm nationally on ABC1. Or catch up from Monday on ABC iView with a full replay at 3.30am on Thursday (*live in AEDT states). ABC Grandstand will have live radio coverage on National Grandstand on ABC Local radio and Grandstand Digital, online and via the mobile phone app.