ParaMatilda Christodoulou has always been undefeated

Today, Football Australia welcomed its newest national team to the family, the ParaMatildas. At the launch event in Sydney, ParaMatilda Nicole Christodoulou spoke of her love of football and the undefeated mindset that led her to donning the green and gold.

"We started our journey back in 2018 and now we're standing here, wearing the green and gold.

"It's such a surreal feeling because eight years ago, I had two strokes in my sleep which left me paralysed down the left side of my body," Christodoulou explained.

"I had to learn how to walk again, how to run, how to kick a ball, so being here today, means everything to all of us."

Christodoulou, who has played football ever since she can remember, spent 10 weeks in hospital, after experiencing two strokes at the age of 21. Already embodying the ParaMatildas' slogan, 'undefeated' she embraced the challenge with both hands.

"I've always been a happy person, even when I was in hospital. All I wanted to do was play football," the high school teacher said.

"My challenges didn't start until after I left the hospital and into real-life situations where I had to go back to uni and go out to the shops. It was also lot harder when I came back to play football.

"For years after my stroke, my legs and my limbs weren't working properly. My leg was very heavy. It was fatiguing, I couldn't juggle the ball the way I used to. It was sad," she shared.

Nicole Christodoulou of the ParaMatildas poses for a photograph during the Official Launch of the ParaMatildas National Team at Overseas Passenger Terminal on March 07, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for Football Australia)

"I had questions running through my head, like, when was I going to be able to play again... Would I ever be able to write again? But I learnt that if you love something, you need to work towards it and it will happen.

"Practicing and being involved in the game just led to improvements every single day. Now we're here and I'm so happy," Christodoulou said, pointing to her national team crest."

Proving doubters wrong is something that the 29-year-old says she thrives on.

"I'm not a person that gives up easily. If I want something, I work hard for it and I never say that I can't do something," she said. 

"I've had many people put me down and say, you can't do this, you can't do that, you're not going to be a teacher, you can't work, you can't play football. But did I listen to them? No, that's why I'm here."

With their very first world cup on the horizon, for Christodoulou and the ParaMatildas, the sky is the limit.

"We're looking forward to May, to representing our country in Spain at the World Cup and we're going to make all of you proud. As our coach (Kelly Stirton) said, "We're going to take over the whole world."

Learn more about the ParaMatildas HERE