Above: Adelaide United captain Isabel Hodgson speaks to the media ahead of this weekend’s Pride Game against Melbourne Victory. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Adelaide United.
Impetus’ Ben Gilby heard from Adelaide United players Isabel Hodgson, Dylan Holmes, and Matilda McNamara ahead of Saturday’s Pride Game against Finals rivals Melbourne Victory (25/2/22).
Adelaide United captain Isabel Hodgson spoke about how excited she is about the feedback she is receiving from all over the country about the A-League’s first-ever Pride match this weekend.
The women’s team sees United host Melbourne Victory with the men hosting Central Coast Mariners at Coopers Stadium on Saturday.
“It’s going to be amazing and a wonderful day. There are so many great things coming up leading to the game. We’re all excited by having rainbow numbers on the back of our shirts.
“Sport brings us all together. It is not about race or sexuality and something we can all come together to do. Players from other teams are asking for the sizing of jerseys to buy the special Pride jerseys.
“There is a lot of interest from both South Australia and interstate. Melissa Barbieri (Melbourne City’s 86 cap Matildas goalkeeper), who is married to a man has been in touch for a shirt with rainbow numbers on.
“Girls have been messaging me for shirts and they are also openly gay and so they are happy that our club are doing it.”
Saturday’s match is also important from the perspective of the Finals race with two teams well entrenched in the top four coming head to head. Hodgson highlighted the fact that a lot has changed since the two sides last met.
“Victory are a great side and we’re looking forward to playing them. Obviously, we played them on the opening day and lost a lot of goals (Adelaide were defeated 5-1), but we are ready for them now. We are putting the goals away ourselves – eight against Brisbane and four against Wellington!”
Adelaide United’s Matildas capped midfielder Dylan Holmes has spoken of her huge admiration for United men’s left-back Josh Cavallo coming out as being openly gay in October 2021.
“The reaction that Josh received all over the world and different organizations just shows that the football community is right behind Josh and is becoming a more inclusive space. This Pride game is really important to share that message and hopefully, it will inspire people to live their true life and be comfortable.
“When I see Adelaide United embracing this, I feel really honoured that I represent a club with these values and one who is willing to go out publicly to support their players. A lot of my team-mates are gay and a lot of players I’ve played with over the course of my career are gay.
“This Pride game is a chance to celebrate these differences. Feeling safe when you do something you love enables you to feel like yourself and perform at your best. The best moments in my career have happened when I’m feeling comfortable within the team. It translates into your on-field experiences.
“This game day will feel a bit different. Through my career, I’ve never played in a Pride round. I definitely don’t take it lightly. Lots of teammates I’ve had in the past have never been accepted for who they are, so it’s a big step for football, not just in South Australia, but the whole of Australia. Football is a game for everyone.”
Defender Matilda McNamara emphasized the double importance of this weekend’s match with Melbourne Victory.
“We’re excited for Saturday not just because of the Pride match, but because it is such a massive match for our season.
“Women’s football is such an inclusive environment for the girls for so long, so now we can push that for the men’s game now too.
Adelaide United know that a victory on Saturday will virtually assure them of a Finals place, but McNamara does not feel any extra pressure on the game compared to the last few weeks.
“Realistically, for the past three or four matches, it has felt like we have to win to stay in the Finals race. All the girls are really up for it. We know what is on the line, but we know that if we play at our best, we can beat any other team.
“We’re not really talking too much about Finals as that just puts too much pressure on. We are all aware of the fact, but we are going into the match with a view that it is just another game. We were all here last year so know what the pain was like missing out by such a small margin (just one goal).”
The Adelaide defender is also keen to put things right after the South Australian side’s defeat to Melbourne Victory in the opening round. “It wasn’t our best performance, but the scoreline (5-1) wasn’t a completely fair reflection on the game and the girls aren’t going to let that happen again. We are aiming to give Victory a beating on Saturday.
“We play a way that means we are always looking to score goals. We were 4-0 up against Brisbane at halftime but still went out for more (Adelaide eventually won 8-2). We want to take every chance we get in front of goal.”
McNamara has had a strong run of form this season with many starting to push her name towards national team selection, but the defender knows that she just needs to focus on her own game.
“Over the past few years I feel I’ve definitely improved so much with my game and I’m glad that people have noticed it. I know I’ve got more to give and I will keep my focus on that. If those people outside of my control can notice too, then that is great as well.”