Victorian pair make Australian debut
Two childhood friends have achieved their dreams side-by-side after debuting for the Westfield Matildas.
The next chapter of an incredible story played out on Sunday, as childhood best friends Ashley Brown and Steph Catley both made their Senior National Team debut for the Westfield Matildas as they drew 1-1 against New Zealand in Wollongong.
The young Victorian pair has been playing together since Under 11 level and worked their way up through Victorian State squads all the way to the Westfield W-League, and according to Brown it could not have worked out any better.
?For Steph and I to make our debuts together was amazing; we've grown up together so I couldn?t have imagined a more perfect situation,? said Brown.
?We?re friends off the park as well as teammates on it, and to have made this big step in our career together in the same match is just incredible.
?Steph was playing left back and I was playing left wing so we were able to use the combinations we?ve developed since we were in juniors.?
It has been a breakthrough year for both Catley and Brown with their 2011/12 form seeing them receive awards (Female Footballer of the Year and W-League Young Player of the Year respectively), accolades and now a Matilda?s cap.
For Brown, it was an experience she will never forget.
?When we were walking out onto the field for the very first time, and the crowd was cheering and the national anthems were playing I looked up and there were thousands of people; it was absolutely crazy.?
With 3,670 supporters filling the stands it was the biggest crowd the 17 year old had ever played in front of, and despite feeling nervous at the start of the match Brown soon settled into the match. Catley too had a strong performance, so much so that she was awarded the Player of the Match.
Despite claiming the match was a bit of a blur, Catley describes it as one of the most special moments of her life.
?To play for the Matildas has been my dream for so long and actually finally get out there and achieve my life-long ambition was breathtaking. The match went so quickly but now that I look back on it, being out there was the most amazing feeling ever.?
With both players still in their teens the sky is the limit, but they are each taking it one step at a time, hoping to make the most out of the precious time at camp to learn from coaches and experienced teammates alike; both on and off the field.
The Westfield Matildas have one more match on Wednesday left before this camp comes to a close and with fellow Victorians Melissa Barbieri also making an appearance and Brianna Davey in the squad, it has been a highly successful week for female football in the state.