Ahead of today’s inaugural CP Women’s World Cup Final, Impetus’ Ben Gilby heard from top scorer Georgia Biekhoff and head coach Kelly Stirton (17/5/22).
Above: Outstanding Para-athlete Georgia Biekhoff speaking ahead of the ParaMatildas’ World Cup Final today. Photo: Football Australia.
Georgia Biekhoff is not just an incredible footballer. She is a true inspirational all round athlete. Competing at the London 2012 Paralympics, Biekhoff won a bronze medal in the javelin and also competed in the 4 x 100 metres.
Biekhoff went into today’s inaugural Women’s CP World Cup Final as the competition’s leading scorer with an incredible 13 goals in five games. The Wollongong born star reflected on her experiences at the World Cup ahead of today’s final.
“It’s been really surreal, competing here. Playing against other women who have Cerebral Palsy (CP) like me is like a dream come true – something I’ve been waiting for many years. Seeing the younger girls step up and show what they have got on and off the pitch is amazing too.
“I was not expecting to get all those goals! I think it won’t hit me until I get home. Even watching the playbacks it’s like ‘This is a dream!’ It doesn’t feel real at all.”
The ParaMatildas were only formed as a team just a few months ago, with fundraising launched and the team then gathered in Canberra for a training camp before departure for the finals in Catalonia.
“It’s been a really intense eight weeks since the team was put together,” Biekhoff reflected. “The girls have stepped up and it’s been a real big learning curve for us. This is just the beginning. I’m really exciting for the future.”
The ParaMatildas’ opponents in the World Cup Final today were the USA. The two sides met each other on Sunday in the final group game. Going into the game, the nations were the only two undefeated nations in the competition. The attacker revealed how the team approached that match, and the off pitch issues which contributed to their 4-0 defeat.
“We saw the match against the USA in the group games as a bit of a dress rehearsal. We didn’t play our best game and had a couple of injuries, including myself which ruled me out of the second half. Kaitlyn (Smith – goalkeeper) had a few things going on with her asthma too. We were confident that we could play a better game against them in the final and just go out there and kill it.”
Biekhoff is quite open in her assertion that the team’s achievements in the World Cup are something that cannot be put into words.
“Making the final is surreal. That’s the buzzword on this tour. There are no words to describe how we are feeling. I know that people are sending messages to us, which is really lovely. I’m really keen to go back home and see what happens now over the next couple of years.”
ParaMatildas head coach Kelly Stirton looked back on the World Cup campaign with huge pride.
“This has been one of the best experiences of my life – my coaching life. I’ve never been in this sort of space before in terms of a World Cup or international tournament. It’s been amazing, achieving what we have achieved.
“Today is the day when it’s all sinking in a little bit. The emotions have stepped up now. It’s a massive achievement. I couldn’t be prouder of the players and the support staff. The girls have really stepped it up on and off the pitch.
“They have had to overcome some challenges. There have been moments when we’ve sat back and thought about what we have achieved and gone ‘Wow!’ We have achieved one of the biggest goals in Australian (football) history, so I’m pretty happy!”
The ParaMatildas’ opponents in the Final were familiar as the two nations only faced each other just two days ago.
“Playing the USA in the last group game was good for us,” Stirton admitted, “We knew what to expect for the Final. We know what we had to fix. We saw what they can do and the damage they can do. We know their key players now, so to have that dress rehearsal was important.”