World Cup glory awaits Griffith’s Matildas trio

Tameka Butt is one of three Griffith students on the Australian squad of the FIFA Women's World Cup
Tameka Butt is one of three Griffith students on the Australian squad for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup

The intense rivalry between Australia’s Matildas women’s football team and Japan will ignite again on Sunday morning when the two nations meet in the quarter-finals of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada.

And three Griffith University students are likely to play vital roles in the clash at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium, which kicks off at 6am (AEST).

With almost 200 international caps between them, midfielder Tameka Butt and defenders Clare Polkinghorne and Elise Kellond-Knight are among the most talented, reliable and experienced players in a Matildas team not only keen to continue its history-making progress through the showpiece tournament, but out to avenge its defeat to Japan in the 2014 Women’s Asian Cup.

The Matildas advanced to the quarter-finals after defeating football powerhouse Brazil in the round of 16, in the process becoming the first Australian football team to win a knockout match at a World Cup.

Griffith’s Matildas all play for the Brisbane Roar in Australia’s W-League competition and also are members of the Griffith Sports College, which helps elite athletes to balance the demands of their sporting careers while securing their futures through tertiary study.

Clare Polkinghore
Clare Polkinghorne

Matildas co-captain Clare Polkinghorne is currently completing aBachelor of Psychological Sciencewith Honours, while Elise Kellond-Knight is doing aMasters of Pharmacy.

Tameka Butt is studying aMasters of Business/Masters of Marketing and in the lead-up to the World Cup gave some insight into her sporting and study goals.

“I am hoping my university degrees will help me grow the exposure of women in sport and create a new culture of how the public perceives it,” she said.

Elise Kellond-Knight
Elise Kellond-Knight

It seems to be working so far, with the Matildas’ World Cup journey being embraced by sports-loving Australians.

Manager of the Griffith Sports College Mr Duncan Free — himself an Olympic champion and a university graduate — firmly believes the College is making a difference in the lives of young athletes.

“For us, the well-being of the athlete is paramount,” he said. “Life can’t be sport and only sport.

“I know from my own experience that you need a switch, you need something else, and study is an ideal way to complement sport and create options for life after sport.

“The Griffith Sports College sees its role as adding guidance and value to that important journey.”

SBS Television will present live coverage of Sunday’s quarter-final, beginning at 5.30am.