Gorry living the dream

Newly-crowned Asian football queen Katrina Gorry is still getting to grips with a whirlwind few days after her coronation at last weekend’s AFC Annual Awards.

The pint-sized all-action midfielder, affectionately known as ‘Mini’, was named Asia’s best female footballer on Sunday in Manila, barely 24 hours after scoring one of the goals of the Westfield W-League season for hometown club Brisbane Roar.

By Tuesday the Westfield Matildas ace was physically back in Brisbane, although mentally she was perhaps still up in the clouds

“I still can’t believe it when I wake up, I thought it was a dream still,” Gorry said a few days after her coronation among the great and good of Asian football at a glittering ceremony in the Philippines’ capital.

“It will take a few days to sink in. It has been very cool to get a lot of support on Twitter and Facebook.

“Being a winner didn’t really cross my mind,” the 22-year-old says. “Some people asked if I had prepared a speech, and I was thinking ‘I’m just here to enjoy it’!”

So how did Gorry feel when her name was read out? “I couldn’t believe it, I thought it was a mistake when I saw my name on the screen,” Gorry said, a sense of wonder still in her voice. “Standing up there on the stage is a feeling I can’t really explain.”

Gorry beat off the challenge of Japan superstars Aya Miyama and Nahomi Kawasumi to win the award. Gorry’s achievement, built around a sparkling three-goal performance at May’s Asian Women’s Cup, all the more remarkable given the pedigree of her fellow nominees.

Nadeshiko captain Miyama was named player of the continental championship in Vietnam, while team-mate Kawasumi starred in the forward line for all-conquering USA club team Seattle Reign. Gorry, meanwhile, also impressed among the many headline-names in the same NWSL competition this year at Kansas City.

The diminutive Gorry is the second Westfield Matildas star to win the award, following in the footsteps of Kate Gill with Australia’s record goalscorer named Asia’s best in 2010.

Gorry’s football odyssey is all the more remarkable given she was struggling to establish herself in the Westfield W-League a few shorts years ago and was forced to move interstate to realise her round-ball dreams.

It is certainly a long way from starting out aged six for Mansfield Eagles in Brisbane. A couple of years at Mt Gravatt playing two games a weekend with both boys and girls followed, before earning a ticket into the QAS aged 14.

Stints at Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United followed as Gorry chased her football dream. “Going to Melbourne really developed me as a player,” says Gorry. “Playing with such a variety of players, including international players, was a big help. Then going to Roar and having so many Matildas at every training session really means every session is intense and you really learn from that.”

Gorry hails from a sporting family with dad a rugby player, and mum a netballer. It was only her elder brothers that started the football theme. Manila offered a rare chance for Gorry to repay her parents in a small way for years of support, and she was able to take mum and dad to the AFC Awards.

“We got the VIP treatment, with a chauffeur,” says Gorry. “AFC had everything covered. It was so cool to experience that. My parents couldn’t believe it.”

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