Ellyse's Excellent Adventure

by Kieran Pender - Senior Contributor on May 19, 2011

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She’s only 20, but Ellyse Perry has already represented her country at the highest level in both football and cricket. Before Perry was even 17, the defender and all-rounder had turned out for both the Matildas and Southern Stars, and only three years on is eyeing off a trip to Germany for the Women’s World Cup.

But despite her amazing achievements, Perry still responds with youthful enthusiasm when asked about the recent Matildas’ camp.

“It’s been brilliant. We’ve had a fantastic time and obviously it was really nice to get the win on Thursday [the three-nil win against New Zealand]”

The current series of camps represents both a warm-up for the World Cup and an opportunity for manager Tom Sermanni to keep an eye on the players as he ponders his final squad. So is Perry confident of finding a place on the plane to Germany?

“I’m not really sure at the moment. It’s such a fantastic squad and group of players that we’ve got together here. There’s still another selection to go through before the final squad is named for Germany.

“But having said that, just looking at the way the squad’s come together and is playing I think everyone is very confident that whoever does make the team to go over there will be in the position to be a really serious challenger in round matches and fingers crossed later into the tournament.”

Sydney-born Perry currently plays for W-League side Canberra United, and says she likes the city and team, despite the commute.

“I love playing for Canberra. Obviously being a Sydney girl it’s a bit of a trip, but it is a tremendous environment to be involved with and our coach Ray Junna is really experienced and leads the group very well.”

The 2009 W-League season was perhaps Perry’s breakout, with the defender picking up the league’s Young Player of the Season award, along with Canberra United Player of the Season and Player’s Player. But when asked about those prizes, Perry stressed she would have traded them for a grand final trophy any day.

“They were really nice accolades to have at the end of the season, but I just really enjoyed last year and this year; the opportunity to play in a really fantastic competition in the W-League. To play alongside some of my good mates and players with tremendous talent was great.

“So to be recognised in that sphere is always nice, but it’s definitely not what you set out to do at the start of the season, and you’d obviously trade all those awards for a grand final win. But having said that it’s a nice little thing to pick up at the end of the season.”

The talented sportswoman is a dual international, and is the youngest Australian to represent the country in cricket. However playing for both the Matildas and the Southern Stars presents many dilemmas, most recently choosing between the Asian Cup and Twenty20 World Cup.

Perry ultimately chose the cricket option, but said the decision was difficult.

“There were really no set factors that influenced my decision. I love playing both and feel very very fortunate to be in this position that enables me to, and that’s only because of the tremendous support I receive from football and cricket.”

“In the case of last year it was just looking at the two competitions and where I sat within them and what was best for not only myself but also the two teams. And that ended up being the Cricket World Cup and it was the most amazing experience to win that. Thankfully my decision paid off because the girls won the Asian Cup and definitely didn’t need my help for that!”

“It was a tricky one at the time but in hindsight it worked out pretty well, and it was so fantastic to land in Australia and see the Matildas winning the Asian Cup.”

If Perry is selected for the World Cup in Germany, it will mark just another achievement for the amazingly talented young woman. And while the Matildas aren’t tipped to win the trophy, if they did the dual international would be a world champion footballer and cricketer. How many people can say that?

For more of our exclusive interview with Ellyse Perry, check out issue two of I Told You So, live June the 1st.