Olympians and latecomers: 'Where I’m From' series celebrates rebel Play Football Round
It’s rebel Play Football Round across Australia this weekend and, to mark the occasion, we sent some Westfield W-League stars back to their junior clubs to reflect on their grounding in the game.
Coinciding with the first stage of the Westfield W-League Finals Series, rebel Play Football Round highlights the role of the grassroots in making football Australia’s most popular club participation sport and encourages kids to sign up for the new season.
There are plenty of great stories to tell of how today’s stars got their start and W-League.com.au has highlighted several in the ‘Where I’m From’ video series.
Polkinghorne proves anything is possible
Few footballers boast a resume quite as decorated as Clare Polkinghorne.
She’s captained her country on numerous occasions, consistently led Brisbane Roar to silverware and participated in multiple major international tournaments, including three FIFA Women’s World Cups.
But like every enthusiastic young player, Polkinghorne honed her game in the humble surrounds of a grassroots club; in her case, Capalaba Bulldogs in Brisbane’s east.
“It all started playing out here and working hard to reach my goals,” the Roar captain recalled.
“You slowly progress through the stages and you end up playing Olympics and World Cups.
“Now I get the chance to represent my country and travel the world.
“If you enjoy what you do and you want to work hard and improve then anything is possible, and it just goes to show how important grassroots football is.”
Privitelli treasures support of ‘second home’
Her entire Westfield W-League career has been spent at Melbourne Victory but Lia Privitelli hasn’t forgotten the local club that helped turn a dream into a reality.
The talented winger remains indebted to Bulleen Lions for fostering the passion that propelled her to the top tier.
“This is my second home,” Privitelli said.
“Local clubs like Bulleen are absolutely amazing for girls wanting to develop their football.
“Everyone sticks by each other and believes in everyone. It’s a really great stepping stone to the W-League.
“When I first came I wasn’t able to play because of injury, and I think without them I probably wouldn’t have overcome that hurdle.
“[Football] has made me so happy, I’m almost 25 and I’m still loving it.”
Better late than never for Roestbakken
There's always time to get started in our great game – just ask Karly Roestbakken.
The Canberra United midfielder came to football later than most but has enjoyed a rapid rise, establishing herself a player of considerable promise in the Westfield W-League while still a teenager.
Roestbakken has relished every moment since joining Queanbeyan club Monaro Panthers as a junior.
“I was 10 [when I started]. It’s pretty late for a footballer, but this is where I really fell in love with the game,” the 18-year-old remembered.
“I had so much fun when I started playing and I’ve never looked back.
“It’s an awesome experience and it’s just amazing the amount of friends you make in football.
“In the years to come [the women’s game] is just going to get bigger so, young girls out there, don’t be afraid to do it!
“Whether you just want to do it for fun or if it’s something that’s your career, just get out there and do it.”