As she enters the final years of her playing career, Matildas veteran Clare Polkinghorne is determined to leave a football legacy beyond it.
Polkinghorne is the only current player to feature in the FFA’s ‘Starting XI’ panel, charged with discussing football’s future in Australia.
“Whenever’s you’re coming to the end of your career, you want to give back to the game that’s given you so much,” Polkinghorne said.
“This was something that was unexpected but it’s a really good opportunity for me to help grow the game.”
Eleven of the most experienced and learned minds in Australian football have come together to discuss and debate the growth and development of our game.
— Football Federation Australia (@FFA) April 27, 2020
Polkinghorne will work on a voluntary basis alongside several former Socceroos and Matildas and technical analyst Ron Smith, and emphasised the importance of football engaging with past and current players.
“There’s so many players and past players who’ve had so many experiences within the game, not only in Australia but overseas as well,” Polkinghorne said.
“The more knowledge that we can gain of what works, what doesn’t work, different ideas of how to move the game forward is only going to be beneficial.”
Polkinghorne emphasised the importance of protecting women’s football, including the W-League.
“The FFA have made it clear that they’re taking women’s football seriously and with the panel they’ve put together and the way they’ve looked after the Matildas, it’s quite clear that women’s football is a big part of what they’re about,” Polkinghorne said.
“I think going forward we need to ensure that the W-League isn’t impacted by this because it’s important for the growth of the women’s game that the W-League’s strong.”
Meanwhile, retirement isn’t something that has crossed Polkinghorne’s mind, with the 31-year-old set on featuring at the postponed Olympics in 2021.
“Representing your country at any level, on any stage is really exciting and for it to be at an Olympic Games is something really special,” she said.
“I know as long as I’m still performing and enjoying the game and contributing to the team, it’s something that I love doing, so I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.”
Polkinghorne had been due to fly to Norway to join Avaldsnes IL but has chosen to remain in Queensland, with hopes she’ll be able to join her new teammates later in the year.