CAITLIN BASSETT: Katrina Gorry is a vital inclusion for Matilda’s Olympic success at the Paris Olympics

Caitlin Bassett
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Katrina Gorry has been picked to play at the Olympics despite her injury.
Katrina Gorry has been picked to play at the Olympics despite her injury. Credit: Getty Images

The Matildas have announced their 18-player squad for the upcoming Paris Olympics which includes injured star Katrina Gorry.

In what will likely be her last major tournament with the Matildas, fans have again been left questioning the gamble of carrying an injured player while there were other fit and ready players vying for spots on the plane.

The energetic midfielder is touted as one of Tony Gustavsson’s most important players — which was evident during last year’s run through the World Cup — and the Matildas boss has backed her in, despite carrying an injury.

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Gustavsson has clearly decided the risk in this situation would be to not have her travelling with the side, even if she was to miss early matches.

The midfielder hasn’t played a competitive match since injuring her ankle playing for club side West Ham in March and missed two friendlies this week as she recovers from surgery.

Gustavsson has faith the veteran will be fully fit in time for the Matildas first group game against Germany on July 25, despite no preparation.

This will be Gorry’s second Games. After competing at Rio in 2016, she missed out on Australia’s best-ever finish in Olympic football when they finished fourth in Tokyo as she gave birth to her first child.

At the World Cup on home soil, Gorrymade the most tackles and covered the most ground of any player at the tournament.

She also scored a scorching penalty in the Matilda’s thrilling penalty shootout win against France which took them to their first ever World Cup semi-final.

She has played 105 times and her experience is invaluable — on and off the pitch.

Her partnership with Kyra Cooney-Cross revolutionised the way Gustavsson’s side played in the lead-up and during that tournament and Gorry is pivotal to both their ball-playing and defensive efforts.

Players like Gorry and fellow veterans Steph Catley and Michelle Heyman have seen it all in women’s football. The Matildas played in front of 75,000 fervent fans in Sydney on Monday night and have sold-out their past 14 matches in Australia.

But it hasn’t always been like that, and some of the team’s most experienced players have also played at glorified training venues in front of less than 500 people.

It’s the same for players graduating from the off-Broadway A-League Women, where crowds are only just starting to grow.

Playing in front of packed arenas, like at the World Cup and next month’s Olympics, might as well be a whole different sport.

Gorry has also played for clubs in seven countries. From Brisbane Roar in her home country to stints in Spain, United States, Sweden and now England among others — there is hardly a player in the world she hasn’t come across.

As much as any team in the world, the Matildas have found a level of consistency in their squad in recent years. Eight members of this squad are going to their third Olympics — a record for Australian soccer.

The most comforting thing at a major tournament is being able to rely on your teammates. The Matildas know Gorry will perform in the crunch moments, even if those crunch moments are the only time she gets on the park. It means teammates don’t need to worry about keeping others on track, they can just worry about themselves.

And off the field, you don’t need to look much further than the players’ social media to know how pivotal Gorry is to this group. If she isn’t the most popular member of the squad, her three-year-old daughter Harper might be.

She is close with young members of the squad, like Cooney-Cross and plays with goal-keeper Mackenzie Arnold at West Ham.

It brings a sense of family to the travelling party and keeps things in perspective. It is a reminder that sport is — at the end of the day — just a game. The kids are just excited to see you when it’s all over, win or loss, and it releases the pressure of a high-intensity environment.

There is a risk that Gorry will miss games at the start of the tournament. But Gustavsson and the Matildas, by carrying veteran Kyah Simon through last year’s World Cup, have shown they place great value in experience, stability and their family environment which is the envy of world sport.

You can never underestimate the worth of these things.

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