The CommBank ParaMatildas' run to the IFCPF World Cup final last year made headlines and inspired so many across Australia.
One of those watching was Carly Salmon. Selected in the squad for the IFCPF Asian Oceania Championships, she is now a member of the team that she watched play over in Spain.
“Growing up as a little kid, I only really thought that individual sports were available to people with a disability,” the goalkeeper explained at the squad announcement event in Melbourne on Monday.
“So I joined athletics. I enjoyed being fit but it wasn’t something I was very passionate about... Seeing there was a pathway for a team sport, and seeing the girls playing in the World Cup in Spain, really just sparked something inside of me. They were amazing, and I really, really wanted to be a part of that.
“I joined a para program in Canberra without many expectations – I just wanted to play a team sport – have fun, reignite my passion for sport that I probably lost through athletics, and that’s exactly what happened. I’m super grateful that Kelly [Stirton], our head coach had that faith in me, let me have a crack and be a part of the ParaMatildas.”
Salmon said being able to play sport in a team environment changed her whole life.
Capped three times for the team, pulling on the jersey and representing Australia is an emotion that is difficult for Salmon to explain.
It’s something that I always dreamed of,” the 24-year-old said. “There were so many people that I looked up to, but you never actually think that it’s going to happen. I’m extremely grateful.”
The IFCPF Asian Oceania Championships will be played in Melbourne, at the Home of the Matildas in Bundoora. The opportunity to play a tournament on home soil, in front of home fans, means the world to Salmon.
“To be able to play alongside a team and especially on home soil in Australia, I’m extremely excited,” she expressed.
The squad is one packed with talent. Fans, who will have the opportunity to see the players in competitive fixtures on home soil for the first time, will have plenty of goalscorers to look out for.
“I’m extremely excited for Australia to see the team in action,” Salmon continued. “There’s definitely not one girl or one person that I can pinpoint because they all blow my mind in each position, there’s so many threats.”
After the CommBank ParaMatildas went so close to silverware at the IFCPF World Cup last year, Salmon was asked if they could go one better this time around.
“Of course they can!” she laughed. “There’s no question about that.”
You can catch the CommBank ParaMatildas and the ParaRoos at the IFCPF Asian Oceania Championships. They will be held from 4 – 11 November 2023 at the Home of the Matildas in Bundoora, Melbourne.
You can find more information including how to buy tickets and the schedule here.