The tenth year of Australia's national W-League kicked off this weekend and when the Newcastle Jets face the Western Sydney Wanderers in its season-opener on Sunday, one of the Matildas' star players Emily van Egmond will be there to celebrate the occasion.
Van Egmond has been kicking butts with Australia's national women's team all year -- which even included a victory over Brazil on home turf in Newcastle in September. Outside of those matches, she's been playing over in Germany for VfL Wolfsburg, but now she's set her sight on tearing up the Aussie women's league once again after signing with the Jets for the fourth time in her career.
The 24-year-old central midfielder stands at 179cm tall and has a passing range so good, she's rarely not involved in setting up quality goals on the football pitch.
So, how good does that actually make her? Well, put it this way -- she's been playing at the national level since representing Australia's Under-17s team when she was just 14-years-old.
In other words, she's pretty bloody good. And now she's spoken to HuffPost Australia to let us know a little more about exactly who Emily van Egmond is.
Luke: The van Egmond name is a popular one in Australian football -- your dad Gary van Egmond played for the Socceroos at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and he's now the Matildas' Assistant Coach. I bet he cracks the whip pretty hard when it comes to your performances for the national team?
Emily: Yeah, I'm obviously very fortunate to have dad in the family with the experience that he has and how high of a level he's coached at. He's not going to lie to me if I have a bad game, he's always going to be truthful and honest and that's what I want -- I'd never want him to sugar-coat me because he's my dad.
Luke: So, when it comes to your strengths as a player, what do you think it is about you that makes some of the big opponents you've played worry about what you can do on the pitch?
Emily: I don't know what they talk about in their locker rooms before the game but I always work as hard as I can for the team and do the best I can... In terms of my playing ability, I'm a central midfielder, so in the way that [Matildas coach Alen Stajcic] wants to play with the exciting attacking football that we produce, I guess you've got to have a somewhat decent understanding of the game, a decent passing range and a good understanding of the philosophy of how he wants to play.
Luke: How is Alen as a coach? Does he come into the change rooms at half-time yelling at you to do better?
Emily: Staj is always demanding more from the playing group -- which is exactly what we need. We're a young team with a lot of potential and we've had a bit of success this year and that comes down to consistency. He loves the game and wants what's best for the team and he's implemented his own philosophy for the team, which the team has bought into really well -- It's exciting times for the national team at the moment.
Off the back of the Tournament Of Nations we obviously triggered something in Australian sport and we're now all so appreciative of all the attention.
Luke: So, you've been playing nationally for around about 10 years now. Do you have a favourite moment that sticks out in your mind?
Emily: I would definitely say the 2010 World Cup in Germany. It was off the back off an injury with my first Matildas call-up and it took me a while to get back on my feet. I remember working really hard and that hard work paid off. I never envisioned that I'd be there and I worked extremely hard to give myself the best chance possible to be on that plane to get over there and play the 3-4 games that we played. It was such a great experience and it was so fun and I was there with Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord and we were the young ones of the team and it was an awesome experience and one that I think is the highlight still today so far.
Luke: The Matildas made it to a quarter-final at that World Cup and you scored your first goal for the national team. How did that feel?
Emily: It all just happened so quickly, I just remember leading up to the World Cup I did a lot of individual sessions with my Dad and that was one of the things that we practised a lot, which was finishing. I was lucky to get the chance that I got as well, which was off a half-volley, and as soon as I saw it come in, I knew what I was going to do and I hit it so sweetly and it went in.
Luke: I want to turn your mind back to the Brazil game in Penrith, in Sydney. You had just won the Tournament of Nations in the United States and the Matildas sold out a home match for the first time ever. What was it like to run out onto an Aussie pitch with a crowd like that cheering you on?
Emily: It was awesome, we've never had anything like that before on home soil so the fact that Australia got out to support us was incredible. I know the girls were talking about how amazing it was to sell out that home crowd. Obviously off the back of the Tournament Of Nations we obviously triggered something in Australian sport and we're now all so appreciative of all the attention that we're getting at the moment.
Luke: What about the players? The Matildas play in domestic leagues all over the world, which must make it hard to keep in touch. How close of a group are you as a team?
Emily: We've got quite a close-knit group. I'm lucky that I've got two of my best buddies in the team who I've grown up playing with since I was 13 in Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord. All the girls have come quite close and we're all quite similar in ages as well and we've all spent a lot of time together. We have a lot of fun and there's a lot of banter and it's exciting times and the most cliché thing is that everyone is super happy and enjoying to come back in the national team setup or a camp.
Luke: That's always great to hear! Surely some of that positivity has got to come down to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that was reached this year to give Australia's female footballers a payrise. It's a big step in the right direction but the deal has its drawbacks. What did you think of that?
Emily: I think we're really fortunate to have an organisation such as the PFA (Professional Footballers Australia players' union) representing the players on our behalf and what we managed to get was awesome. There is a big pay gap between men and women's footballers but for now for girls, not having to miss training due to work commitments with the minimum wage now at $10,000 for W-league players means a lot.
Luke: I'm glad you mentioned the W-League -- you're back this year! Surely that's got to be exciting?
Emily: I've been out of the W-League now for two years and I'm back now for the 10th season and I'm really excited to see how far it's come and from what I've heard its only getting better and better.
Luke: What was the biggest thing that made you want to come home to play again?
Emily: To be able to come home and be around friends and family was the main thing. The fact that [Wolfsburg and the Jets] acted so quickly on my situation means I'm very lucky and appreciative of them helping out the way that they did. I'm so happy to be home and I'm super excited to be back and in a Jets shirt.
Luke: So you'll play this year's W-League season, and then the Matildas have two matches against China in Victoria in November and then the 2018 Asian Cup in Jordan and 2019 France World Cup. The national team have been pretty great recently, so what's the next goal?
Emily: I think any team who qualifies for the World Cup wouldn't be going there just to make the numbers up. Of course, you go to win and the first step for us is obviously doing extremely well in the World Cup Qualifiers next year in Jordan.
Luke: Does that mean Aussie fans can expect a World Cup win somewhere in the near future?
Emily: The women's game now is constantly changing so I don't think there's any team in the top 10 of FIFA's women's rankings that couldn't beat anyone on any given day. I think the 2019 World Cup in France is going to be really exciting.
Luke: Emily van Egmond, thank you for speaking to HuffPost Australia.
The Matildas are set to play two friendly matches against China in Melbourne on November 22 and Geelong on November 26.