13/04/2024

Matilda Clare Hunt (Photo: Football Australia)

A Matildas call-up, her first stint overseas and the Women’s Football World Cup, Clare Hunt has had a big year which she says will continue to inform her footballing career.

Last February, Matilda’s defender Clare Hunt made her senior debut against Czechia in the Cup of Nations. This was followed by the FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil, in which Australia made the bronze medal match.

Hunt’s figure has risen in the game in this time, so much so that she has become entrenched in the starting XI already.

Her solid World Cup performances were rewarded duly, when Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) came knocking with an offer which saw her start her first overseas football season in October.

Ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers against Uzbekistan, Hunt reflected on 2023.

“I think for me, it was really cool to reflect on the year after finding out it was 12 months since my debut and I think it’s been the longest and shortest year of my life,” Hunt said.

“I feel like I’ve managed to jam so much into the last 12 months and grow a lot in that space but I also think I’ve met some really amazing people [and] had some really amazing experiences.

“I think 2023 for me was probably a big year of growth, and a big year of understanding what’s next for me and my professional career as a footballer, so it’s been wonderful.

“I’m happy to roll on through and maybe tick off an Olympic Qualification and an Olympic tournament so that’s my goal for 2024.”

She explained the challenge that was present when she signed with French giant PSG, moving away from home and settling in another country, although she’s embraced the experience of playing within the French league.

“I think for me, it’s always a challenge moving overseas, particularly when it’s so far away from home,” he said.

“I think now that I’ve started to settle in, it’s made me appreciate the quality of football over there and the quality of players you can play with and against so for me, it’s been wonderful.

“We’ve [also] been able to experience Champions League Football in my first year overseas, so I feel exceptionally grateful to have that opportunity, but also I suppose develop on-and-off the park in terms of personal growth and developing my style of play too so I feel really lucky.”

Hunt continued to speak about playing with the calibre of players that she does play with and against at PSG, she was not daunted by the challenge due to playing with a similar calibre at national level.

“I’m enjoying playing and being around some world-class players, I can see myself progress and when I come back to this [Matildas] environment I can see areas where I have developed in my football and areas where I’ve grown personally as well,” she said.

“It’s quite refreshing to come back and [to] be in this Aussie environment [because I can see] how much the Paris Saint-Germain environment has influenced that too.”

“I think we’re quite lucky that I have that with my national team too, so for me it’s not too daunting to be around players like that in ‘clubland’ as well.

“I feel extremely lucky to share the pitch with players in the national team as well as the club so they help me develop as a footballer and as a person too so it’s brilliant.”

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Hunt has had some time off over Christmas between her time at the Matildas, after the Canada games and around her commitments at PSG. She spoke about how refreshed she is feeling which will see her ready to attack another 12 months of football.

“The first few days [of Matildas camp] have been really good, I think it’s nice to be back with the team,” Hunt continued.

“We had a nice break over Christmas and we haven’t been in [camp] since the Canada camp so I think for us it’s nice and refreshing to be in the New Year and seeing each other again after being with our clubs so I’m excited to sort of progress from where we were last year.

“I spent some time at home and I spent some time in Paris as well [over Christmas] so [the time off has] been quite nice.”

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