Who’s who in W—Catherine Cannuli

Catherine Cannuli debuted for the Westfield Matildas last week in a 3–0 friendly win against New Zealand.

Written by Westfield Matilda Sally Shipard

Catherine Cannuli debuted for the Westfield Matildas last week in a 3-0 friendly win against New Zealand. The 25-year-old-s week was then topped off by scoring her first goal in another friendly against New Zealand (it was a 2-1 win at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford).

Cannuli began playing football at age nine with the Marconi Stallions and was a strong force throughout her teenage years, representing NSW Metro at national championships. She first represented the Young Matildas in 2001, but stepped away from football altogether soon after. She didn-t sense a career and a severe lack of balance in her life helped her make the decision to take time out. Girls FC is excited to see her back and raring to go. Sally Shipard chatted with Cannuli to find out why she first took a break and how she re-ignited her football-playing passion...

SS: During your teenage years, you attended Westfield-s Sports High School. Do you think going to a sports high was beneficial for your football?

CC: Yes, attending a sports high school was very beneficial. During school hours, we experienced regular high-intensity sessions, working consistently on our technique. Football was treated as a subject. For instance, the repetitive training in striking a ball. It was drummed in to you that many times, it is something I will never forget!

SS: Excuse me while I get straight to the point, Nulz. Why did you step away from football and how old were you?

CC: In 2004, I stepped away as an 18-year-old after the Youth World Cup in Thailand. I had been playing football my whole life. At that point in time there were a few reasons. First, I couldn-t see myself forging a career out of playing women's football with no financial support. And to be honest, I wasn-t loving the game like I used to. I-d just turned 18 and had no life-football balance either, which played a big part in my decision. I didn-t enjoy the idea of my whole life revolving around football.

SS: Ok, so you stepped away to free up time for other parts of your life...I-m intrigued as to what other hobbies/career paths you found.

CC: I started spending more time with my family, going away on holidays, which I never previously got to do. For example, I followed my brothers around drag racing :) I also got my first job—I had never worked before. Then I travelled around Europe and the USA.

SS: After taking a break completely, you returned to club football in Sydney. Who did you play for?

CC: It was in 2008 that I returned to play football. Joe Baldacci of Inter Lions Football Club approached me and asked that I come down and have a kick. I ended up playing two seasons with them.

SS: Just last week you mentioned briefly why you returned to elite football. Would you mind sharing this with Girls FC?

CC: My passion for football began to re-ignite in Europe.

SS: I know exactly what you mean. Please continue...

CC: In Europe they just love football. I visited Old Trafford, and in one instant I was reminded of how much I loved the game and that I missed it. Back home in Australia, watching the Westfield W-League, and seeing my old friends playing provided more incentive. A few months later, I spoke with Alen Stajic, who invited me to train with NSWIS and see how I felt. That training session I made up my mind: I wanted to give it another crack. It took a while and a lot of hard work regaining my fitness, but eventually I made it into the Sydney FC squad for the second season of the Westfield W-League!

SS: When you first made the decision to come back, did you think you would be ever donning the green-and-gold jersey?

CC: No, I always said I would take it one step at a time. I didn-t want to rush things and whatever came of playing in the Westfield W-League would be a bonus. I wanted to get it right for Sydney FC first. Having spent four years away from the game, it took a while for my body to adjust. Over the last few years the load/intensity of training sessions and games has increased dramatically!

SS: Ok, so having made your debut for Australia, what-s the best thing about being a Westfield Matilda?

CC: The feeling you get when you walk out onto the pitch with your jersey on!

SS: Finally, your life in six…

I am happiest when...I-m scoring goals. The last time I laughed uncontrollably...was in camp, rooming with Servet Uzunlar, Lauren Colthorpe, and Lydia Williams! If someone was to play me in a film they would be...Ellen Degeneres. If I wasn-t playing football, I would be...a drag racer. My guiltiest pleasure...is my mum-s cooking! Something no body else knows...is that I love racing cars!

Thanks for your time, Nulz. It-s an absolute pleasure having you back out on the pitch!