Karp's feet finally grounded

It has been a whirlwind couple of years for former Matilda and current Victory co-captain Tal Karp, but the crafty midfielder has finally found her feet at the Melbourne club ahead of this weekend's blockbuster clash with Sydney.

It has been a whirlwind couple of years for former Matilda and current Victory co-captain Tal Karp, but the crafty midfielder has finally found her feet at the Melbourne club ahead of this weekend's blockbuster clash with Sydney.

The inaugural season of the Westfield W-League proved a logistical nightmare for Karp with her legal career at Mallesons Law Firm colliding with her duty as captain and curtailing her own progress on the field.

"Last year was incredibly difficult, I worked for a judge and we were traveling interstate because the court usually sat in Canberra so I was traveling for weeks on end and then flying back for games on the weekend so I wasn't really able to train properly myself and wasn't with the team often enough," Karp said.

Hailing from Perth, Karp lived in Canberra for eight years while studying to become a lawyer at the Australian National University, but it wasn't before she moved to Melbourne three years ago that the world of corporate law began to take its toll.

"Before the season commenced I was traveling around overseas for a few months and decided that in order to play this season I needed to step back from corporate law because there's clearly not enough time in the day to do both," she said.

Karp now lends her expertise to Football Federation Victoria but is finding much more time, not only for her game, but to lead the team.

"I'm really proud to be part of this second W-League season and it's great to see the league kicking on so I'd love to see us push into the finals again," she said.

She believes the league has proved a bounding success and is looking forward to more growth.

"It's doing a lot for the profile of the women's game just in the sense that being associated with the men's league lends a lot of credibility to the women's game that we might not have had previously," she said.

Just as the Hyundai A-League is making short strides as a franchise the Westfield W-League is taking tiny steps after the prolonged absence of a national women's league before 2008.

"Increased confidence (from the first season) has led to better players, the girls know what they're up against in terms of knowing what to expect of players from different states so they've got a little bit more background on the league," she said.

And Karp feels this exposure will lead to a better standard of football and more international recruits to add to the two currently on Melbourne Victory's books in American Julianne Sitch and Canadian Katie Thorlakson.

Having endured the struggle with work last season Karp was more than happy to take on a dual-captaincy role with impressive shot-stopper Melissa Barbieri this season.

"I think it's great to be able to share the captaincy with Melissa, I have great respect for her on and off the park, so I think its just added weight to our leadership group," she said.

"We've also for the first year implemented a leadership group (consisting of herself, Barbieri, Thorlakson, Sitch and veteran defender Marlies Oostdam) so it just shows that there's a number of people taking a leadership role which I think is really important."

After a distinguished international career with the Matildas and having represented Australia at the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup and the 2004 Athens Olympic Games you sense Karp is relishing the opportunity to focus solely on her club.

"We're going fairly well, we're in fourth place at the moment, things are shaping up well for us to be in finals contention but we still have a lot of work to do to improve our game and the understanding between the players," she said.

A thrilling 2-1 victory at the weekend against the Newcastle Jets sets up, what should be a pulsating cross-city showdown with third-placed Sydney in Shepparton on Saturday night.

"It's going to be a really tough game, Sydney are a top quality team because they have a lot of past and present Matildas. They are also a good distributive team but have a lot of pace and skill so they are one to beat," she said.