WE’RE BACK! No leaving you hanging here. Part two of my interview with Junior Matildas Head Coach, Rae Dower, is right here. In part one we covered some sweet, sweet ideas about football and how this side is looking to play that makes me drool. This time round we are talking off the field. Seriously all of this has left me grinning like a cheshire cat and feeling absolutely stoked about these young guns coming up through the ranks. I can’t wait for these players to take the helm in 2023 and to really be humming for the cycle after that.
OFF THE FIELD
Balance and the international environment
What we’re trying to do is help the players achieve their goals and their dreams…that’s what coaching is about. Our priority is also about having balance with football and life outside of football…school, family, friends, it’s all about balance.
I think the good thing is, with players coming in and out, once players get a taste of it, they really want more. They might be the big fish in the little pond back home, but when you get all the big fish in the same pond, you get a pretty good school of fish in the ocean. Without the opportunity to see the best players from around the rest of the country, they don’t know what level they need to be at. They’re good in their home environment and play well there. Coming into the national team set up, they’re all good players. Everyone’s getting the praise at home and so it teaches young players to be patient and they won’t always be a starter here. They have to learn to deal with those expectations and disappointments. We’re trying to build resilience in young players. For all players, you’re always only one illness or injury away from not being able to play football, so we never take that for granted.
We do everything with a smile on our face. We enjoy it because we understand the extreme privilege it is to be representing our country and all those young players know all the people that have helped them to get here. They’re representing their local clubs, their families, friends and school. It doesn’t take a lot to inspire and motivate this next generation to do great things. You treat them fairly and equally and with respect. We’ve got a bit of a saying in our group:
The players know there’s no such thing as a stupid question. No one judges if anyone asks, it’s a really open and honest learning environment. We do things with a smile on our face, because it’s the best game in the world. It’s the beautiful game, the world game and we all love it with a passion. We’re all extremely proud to be representing our country, players and staff alike and everyone is trying to achieve their goals.
McKenna and Lowry [OK, this was small parts me not being prepared enough for this interview, but we struck gold, so all good yeah]
Tijan is Letica’s sister [the McKenna’s]. All the Perth girls have been training alongside the Perth Glory girls in scholarship contracts this W-League season. In six months, from the first round of qualifiers to now, Tijan has come back really strong. She’s still little and small as, but she’s come back really strong, really explosive. Her skill is really exciting to see. She’s not afraid to try things on the field, she plays with a lot of freedom and creativity, we encourage that. It’s been great for her in the offseason playing alongside her big sister and the rest of the Perth Glory squad. As with a number of the girls who trained alongside their W-League clubs, they’ve come in really fit, really confident. We’re going to need all our players to be at that level if we want to get through to the Asian Cup in September.
Similar with Hana Lowry in the first round. She was a bit slight in the middle of a huge growth spurt and so she needed the next six months to grow and to develop. She was our best player the other night against Myanmar. Her left foot is very special. She is a central midfielder, playing as an eight or ten usually. But her ability to beat a player 1v1 with her pace and her crosses were electric and sometimes I see different qualities in players and challenge them to take up new positions like Hana did the other night.
Playing against Myanmar, we had the opportunity to change some combinations and play some players in different positions. To see what their versatility was like. It’s a great chance to be able to test that out in live match situations.
There were four girls who made their debuts (against Myanmar)…another four girls playing for their country for the first time and yeah, it’s special. You will always remember your debut into the National Team and this is a special group…it’s a special time to head away to Laos and I’m sure we’ll all do Australia proud.
Photo’s by Jen Willmott
In case you missed it, part one is over here https://mollysfootyrants.wordpress.com/2019/02/26/the-kids-are-alright-chatting-with-rae-dower-part-i/