Matildas?new era

By BRAD GREENSHIELDS

DON'T just think that the newly formed Football Federation Australia (FFA) has simply worked hard on creating the new Hyundai A-League as well as the push into the Asian world group.

According to Matildas' defender Kate McShea, the FFA has also raised the bar as far as funding and support for the national women's team as well.

"We're now getting a bit more funding when we do go away, so it does make it that little bit easier where you don't actually have to work quite as hard when you get home," McShea said.

"Obviously, we still work full-time but it makes it a lot easier with some people paying off mortgages, paying off cars and stuff and to know that when you go away you're still going to get paid so those things back home will be looked after, so you've got a little bit of a weight off your shoulder."

"It's very good for us, it's making the sport a lot more professional so young females can now think 'I can get paid to play the game I love', so it's good."

McShea has been in Coffs Harbour with the Matildas as the squad prepared to play in their upcoming tour of Asia to contest friendly internationals against Japan, South Korea and China.

The tour will be a big step in the team's overall preparation for the next Women's World Cup in 2007 which will be played in China.

"They're probably one of the leading nations, obviously they've got a huge population so they've got a lot of players to choose from," she said.

"It is a lot easier for other countries to travel to Asia as well. We went there and we played the Germans who are world number one so we always get good experience there.

"It allows us to see the kind of foods that we're going to have to have over there and the climates that we're going to have to deal with so it's an ideal preparation for us and allows us to fine tune our preparation for when we go over there for the World Cup.

"We'll try a few different things while we're over there see the hotels and the training pitches and just get used to those sort of things before we actually are there for the big games."

Although only 22, this is not McShea's first visit to Coffs Harbour.

'Shorty' as she is known to her team-mates was a member of the squad that played against France at the International Stadium in 2001.

"We always enjoy coming to Coffs Harbour, we get a lot of support from the locals and obviously there are really good facilities at the International Stadium," she said.

"It's always good for us coming here, we know we're in a good spot."

The local feel wasn't confined to just the surroundings either.

Star Sawtell player Jenna Tristram also was a part of the four-day training camp.



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