There's no place like home
I have been fortunate enough to play at two FIFA World Cups at some amazing stadiums, but this match at Campbelltown will be special.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to return to my first junior club, The Gunners Soccer Club, in my home town of Macquarie Fields in Western Sydney. The task at hand was a photo shoot as part of my role as one of FFA-s Community Football Ambassadors.
The dressing sheds and club canteen have been upgraded a bit since I started my football there back in 1984, but the fields are just the same, although they don-t seem as big as they did when I was a five-year-old.
As with most local football clubs around Australia, some of the same people are still running the club since my junior days and the teammates I had back then now have their kids playing for the club too.
The club is an important part of the community and a great way for kids to get active and make friendships that really do last a lifetime. This for me is what football is all about.
After doing the photo shoot with of the Gunners junior footballers and fellow ambassador, Heather Garriock, an international player who also grew up in the Macarthur area, I had a chat with the players and their parents and the topic of conversation quickly moved on to Sydney FC-s Hyundai A-League Community Round match against Perth Glory at Campbelltown Stadium this Wednesday night (7:30pm kick off).
There was a real buzz in the air and sense of anticipation for this match from the kids, parents and, I have to admit, from me too.
Throughout my football career I have been fortunate enough to play for Australia at two FIFA World Cups at some amazing stadiums around the world against some of the greatest players in the game, but this match at Campbelltown Stadium will be a special one for a different reason.
To run out onto Campbelltown Stadium in front of my family, friends and all the locals who have followed my football career so closely over the past 27 years will be a humbling experience.
Football has given me amazing opportunities and experiences, but I have never forgotten where I came from. When I came back to Australia earlier this year, my first thought was to live in the area that I grew up in. My family and friends are here and for us this is was the right time to do it.
It-s fantastic that a Hyundai A-League match will be played in my home town to give the local community a taste of top flight football that they may not have seen before.
The Macarthur/Campbelltown region has always been a great football area for developing top quality players and coaches. I still remember playing with the Macarthur Rams rep teams before heading to the Australian Institute of Sport as a teenager.
Training at Lynwood Park (Macarthur Rams home ground) was where it all began to take shape for me as a footballer and the hours spent there doing skills and drills there have helped make me who I am today.
Hopefully on Wednesday night there will be plenty of future Socceroos and Matildas in the Campbelltown Stadium crowd and of course they-ll all be cheering for a Sydney FC win.
We-ll go into the game with that winning feeling after our 2-0 victory over the Brisbane Roar. Breaking the Roar-s 36-game unbeaten run made plenty of headlines, but the Sydney FC boys took more satisfaction from our 90-minute performance.
Our effort and our tactical discipline was very good and I was personally very happy to make a contribution with a goal in the tricky conditions at Kogarah.
Backing up with just a few days rest will be an extra challenge for the team, but when you are playing well and winning you want to keep the games coming. See you Wednesday night when I-m on home soil at Campbelltown.
The Hyundai A-League Week 9 midweek ‘Community- match between Sydney FC and Perth Glory, has been rescheduled to be played at 5.30pm on Wednesday 18 January at Campbelltown Stadium. Click here to purchase your tickets.