Sky Blue FC’s Caitlin Foord is a prime example of the talent set to be the beating heart of the Australian women’s national team for years to come. In various ways, the right-sider and her fellow Matildas flow to the very same beat.
International audiences got a glimpse of Caitlin Foord’s ability two years, as the Illawarra native helped Australia to a quarter-final place in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. What made her acclimatisation to the big stage even more impressive was the fact she was only 16 years old, scooping the Best Young Player award for the tournament.
At 18, she is now preparing for the opening weekend of the National Women’s Soccer League, having joined Sky Blue FC in New Jersey. Her teammates include forward Lisa De Vanna, another member of an exciting, up-and-coming Australia squad.
Caitlin and her fellow Matildas share much in common, including the music that ignites their mood on a match day.
“I think music plays a big part in all of my teammates’ preparation for a game,” says Caitlin. “With Matildas, everyone on the bus has their iPods in, listening to music to and from training and games.”
“Once we get into the change room, someone puts their iPod into the speakers. We normally make a playlist before a tour, everyone sends in their favourite song, and they’re generally the songs that get played in the changing rooms before games.
“There is a mixture of music in the playlist but it keeps everyone happy.”
In late-January, she was an integral part of the Sydney FC team that defied expectations to go all the way to Grand Final glory in the W-League. Her reputation has been steadily rising, with an opportunity to join INAC Kobe Leonessa in Japan, though the move did not materialise, with school commitments back home still to take care of.
This year brought overseas offers again, from England and Sweden. The lure of joining the new NWSL proved the strongest attraction, however, with her fellow Aussies and close friends in the league an added sway in the decision.
Her recent Sydney teammates, captain Kyah Simon and forward Sam Kerr, have joined Boston Breakers and Western New York Flash. One more of the recent W-League-winning team, another young Matilda, gets a mention as Caitlin describes her friends’ favoured sound choices.
“Myself and a few of the younger ones, Samantha Kerr, Kyah Simon, Alanna Kennedy, are into electric and house music, also old-school r&b. I don’t think there is anyone with unusual taste in music; well, not that I know of.”
If the rapid right-sided player ever needs a guilty-pleasure classic to raise the mood, this next one has to be in the mix.
“My first album was Hanson ‘Middle of Nowhere,’ because I used to love the song ‘MMMBop’ when I was about seven.”
Sydney’s recent Grand Final win saw the Sky Blues come up against Matildas keeper Brianna Davey in the Melbourne Victory goal. Sporting and otherwise, the 18-year-old is multi-talented, as Caitlin reveals when asked if she personally has ever had an initiation song to do.
“I have never had to do that and hope I never have to! I have seen Brianna Davey from the Matildas sing in front of a few of us; she has a really good voice.”
The NWSL pits Caitlin against some of the world’s best each week, with the status of a full-time professional an obvious perk for a player carrying ambitions of a long-term career. Off the field, meanwhile, she has been in her element of late.
“I like a new challenge, meeting new people and making new friends, so it is exciting for me. It’s my first time living out of home, and so far for me, the best thing is the shopping!
“The shopping here is amazing, they have absolutely everything here, and it’s so much cheaper than back home. I love it!”
Playing professionally may not have happened at all, if not for her sister persuading their mother to let Caitlin join a local team. A former Warilla Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners player, the Mariners folding led her to Sydney, the team she had always wanted to play for.
Former national-team coach Tom Sermanni gave her the chance to pull on the green and gold for the first time, and she would score on that debut, a 3-0 victory over New Zealand in May 2011. The World Cup followed soon after, with her performance against the likes of Brazilian superstar Marta among those to catch the attention.
She was on holiday in Italy when finding out she had been named the tournament’s Best Young Player. Already a premier name in Aussie women’s sport, she relishes each chance to link up with the Matildas, almost as much as the teenager loves surfing.
“I love going to the beach. I also enjoy catching up with my family and my friends from school.
“The best thing about being a part of the Matildas to me is having the opportunity to represent my country, and travelling the world with my closest friends along the way. The aim is to keep growing and get better as a team, and to do better in the World Cup and the Olympics.”
She joins an exciting new era for the women’s game in the U.S., as the third iteration of a top-level pro league kicks into life. In the eight-team NWSL, Caitlin’s Sky Blue open with a home clash on Sunday with Western New York Flash at Yurcak Field.
The 5000-capacity venue on the Rutgers University campus will host the likes of World Player of the Year, Abby Wambach, for the Flash, as well as fellow U.S. stars Christie Rampone and Kelley O’Hara among the Sky Blue squad. As well as Lisa De Vanna, Aussie eyes will be on the match-up between those wearing number 4 – Caitlin and Sam Kerr.
Early as it may be in her career, Caitlin closes here by trying her hand at the regular final question of these interviews – a fantasy 5-a-side line-up, featuring herself, and four current or former teammates.
“Goalkeeper: Brittany Cameron from Sky Blue. From what I have seen from training and games, she is an awesome keeper; she seems to get a hand on everything!
“Defender: Christie Rampone. I haven’t played with her much yet, but I am looking forward to playing with her at Sky Blue in the upcoming session, and I am looking forward to learning a lot from her; she is a world-class player.
“Midfielder: Collette McCallum. She is such a smart player; she hardly loses the ball and is tidy with her touches and passes.
“Striker: Lisa De Vanna. She is so quick with and without the ball at her feet, and a good finisher.”