De Vanna set for her second Olympics

TEAM VETERAN: Australia's Lisa De Vanna controls the ball in an Asian qualifying game for the Rio Olympics against Japan at Kincho Stadium in Osaka.
TEAM VETERAN: Australia's Lisa De Vanna controls the ball in an Asian qualifying game for the Rio Olympics against Japan at Kincho Stadium in Osaka. Kunihiko Miura

FOOTBALL: Lisa de Vanna will get the chance to compete at her second Olympic Games after being named in the Australian squad for Rio next month.

De Vanna, the only survivor from the last time the Matildas competed at the Olympics in 2004, has one goal.

“We want to win a medal,” said De Vanna, who finished fifth with Australia in Athens.

“Obviously gold is what everyone is fighting for and dreams about but if we come back with any medal it would a massive boost for women’s football in Australia.”

The 18-strong squad is made up of players competing in some of the strongest leagues in the world but de Vanna said there was a tremendous team spirit whenever they got together for a major tournament.

“The coaching staff has a massive influence on the success of the team, instilling a sense of family and belief that we go out and play with,” de Vanna said.

“Along with the skill of the players in this side, it is what sets this team apart from those of the past.”

There are 17 Olympic rookies on the Australian squad but there are a number such as co-captain Clare Polkinghorne and striker Kyah Simon, who made her debut before the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, who have experience in international competition.

The Australian women’s football team will be the first to compete in the green and gold in Brazil.

Its first clash is against Canada in Sao Paolo on August 3, two days ahead of the opening ceremony.

Simon said she was thrilled to be handed her chance to represent her country, particularly as an indigenous role model.

“I am very excited and honoured to get the chance to be a part of this team,” the 25-year-old said.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to get this opportunity to play at an Olympic Games and I now can’t wait to get to Brazil and start training with the team.

“The Olympics is the pinnacle of world sport and it will be great to pull on the jersey and know we have the whole country behind us.

“I remember sitting in front of the television watching the Sydney 2000 Olympics as Cathy Freeman won gold and that inspired me to do everything I could to reach my aspirations in football.

“I hope that me making the team will have the same impact on young indigenous Australians to chase their dreams as well.”

Topics:  matildas rio2016

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