Ageless Munoz still thriving in green

Despite a battered body, Caitlin Munoz shows little sign of ageing and remains one of Canberra United’s most consistent, if under-rated performers.

Now 32, Munoz’s connection with Canberra in the national league dates all the way back almost to the turn of the century, when she score a Grand Final winner for Canberra Eclipse in the long-gone WNSL. And she is still contributing strongly for the team from the nation’s capital, scoring with a typically cool finish on Saturday in a 3-0 win over Sydney FC, for her 21st goal in 61 appearances for United.

There was also a distinguished international career, which included the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where Munoz’s incisive passing and natural football brain were invaluable.

Always impressively chilled and with a smile at the ready, Munoz is one of the most popular players going around. Here she talks about life at Canberra United as they seek to defend their crown, continuing to defy a run of injuries as well as career highlights for both club and country.

You certainly seem to still be enjoying your football?
Caitlin Munoz: That is the reason I am still playing. I enjoy being around the team, and that is what I will miss when I am no longer playing. That is the most important thing…. If you are still enjoying something, why give it up.

Yet our body has suffered some serious bad luck down the years?
I have had three and half-ish knee reconstructions but I’m still hanging in there! It has actually felt good the past few years so the knee is hanging in there.

Incredibly you have played not just every summer, but winters in the Canberra league as well for many years now. Is that not a burden on the body?
I think the arthritis might be kicking in especially in the winter, but I have learnt to deal with it. I am in regular contact with my physio and doctors I see regularly, and if it gets too much we can talk about it and options.

How is the mood in the Canberra squad this season with a fair few new players arriving?
We have around eight players that have been there since the get-go (first season in 2008), which helps that we have know each other for so long. But we have recruited really well, and have some really good young players coming through as well. We were a bit disappointed after the loss to Brisbane, but we bounced really well against Sydney and we can continue on now.

You have an impressive goal to games ratio despite always being in the forward line over recent years.
I think I miss as many as I score! Sometimes it is just right time, right place I guess.

What is it that makes Canberra a special club?
It is really professional. Maybe it helps that we don’t have a men’s team equivalent and we can be focussed on. We have great facilities and staff. And women’s sport gets great coverage in Canberra with the Canberra Times, WIN News, ABC and others. Also, Canberra being a lot smaller than other cities means we can get around easily and tend to hang out more together, which is really different I think, and means we are a close team.

What would be a career highlight for Canberra?
The first year was amazing because we made it all the way to the final, and maybe people didn’t think Canberra would do too well. That was awesome, even though we lost. The year we won it and went through undefeated was one of the best seasons I have experienced. How close we were on an off the field really showed.

What about in your Matildas career?
Obviously going to the World Cup was a massive achievement, and I loved it and wouldn’t change that. Also a goal I scored in the (2006) Asian Cup final in Adelaide was probably one of the best goals I have ever scored. Also just being able to travel the world with good friends was awesome.