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02 January 2021

Emily Gielnik on returning to the W-League and why Australia could win the World Cup

Australian football star Emily Gielnik is hoping she can help put Brisbane Roar ‘back on the map’ after signing for the W-league side for the new season. 

The 28 year-old, who joined Roar from Swedish side Vittsjö GIK, told NewsChain: "I didn’t have any intention of coming back and playing W-League at all, but I just thought this was a good opportunity and a great time with how things are lining up.

"It just seemed like a great opportunity to keep the ball rolling and to get some minutes back at home.

“I’m such a different player now to what they will remember, so that’s kind of exciting to me.”

Her football journey began at Roar where she was one of the club’s longest-serving attackers from 2008-2018, but she decided to move on and play at clubs around the world to pursue her career and push herself out of her ‘comfort zone’.

She played for WSL side Liverpool during the 2012 season and is well aware the W-League still has a long way to go in terms of standards and, more importantly, investment. 

Gielnik has previously played for Melbourne Victory and Bayern Munich

(Zuma Press/PA Images)

She said: "No one is really coming back to play, they’re all in England obviously.

"The W-League is going to miss a lot of those players who have left and those players have pretty much signed long-term contracts in England.

“But now with the WSL, that is like leaps and bounds and has grown majorly and just to see what they are doing there, I mean I don’t blame the girls for branching out and doing something else.”

Many of the Australian national side’s top players are currently competing abroad including Sam Kerr at Chelsea and Arsenal’s Caitlin Foord, which means the W-League have been left with 15 current or former Matildas.

“The WSL has blown up because it seems they have made major investments, they’ve got some huge faces from America, they’ve got a lot of Australians, they are getting all these new players in and that’s obviously drawing a lot of attention,” said Gielnik. 

"I know they’ve got a major investment from Barclays, (which) is great to see and (see) the league grow. I really hope other countries can follow, I just think that it’s a really good time for women’s football, it’s in the limelight more than it’s ever been before.

"(The W-League) is growing and the participation for grassroots football is growing and that definitely helps.

“It’s not anywhere where we need it to be but it’s getting there, but I think Australia will hopefully look to invest and grow the game as much as they can in the next few years with the World Cup being on home soil (in 2023)."

The Matildas were knocked out of the last World Cup by Norway in the Round of 16

(Zuma Press/PA Images)

The 2019 World Cup in France attracted millions of fans and was a huge success in helping grow the women’s game.

 She believes Australia, who are co-hosting the event with New Zealand in three years time, should ‘embrace the pressure’ they will be facing.

Gielnik, who has earned over 30 caps for Australia after making her senior debut in 2012, added: "I think they should embrace that pressure. When is the next time Australia are going to host a women’s World Cup, I’m so grateful it’s in my era.

"I think it’s the best opportunity to put women’s football on the map and especially Australia on the map, so if they don’t take advantage of this opportunity you would be crazy.

"It will be good for the outside world and for all of Europe to see what we have to offer, not only as a country but as a footballing nation, so I think it’s a really important time for women’s football in Australia.

“I think it’s hopefully going to be an extreme breakthrough for us.”

Winning a World Cup gold medal on ‘home soil’ would be the ‘icing on the cake’, she says.

"We have the opportunity to win and I know we are a footballing team that can win.

"With home soil comes major pressure and I just think we are in the best possible condition as a group mentally and physically.

"To get on the podium would obviously be a major dream come true. I hope it will be the biggest World Cup in history.”

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