While just 31 years old, Dutch defender Maruschka Waldus warmly embraces the nickname “grandma,” affectionately coined by her younger teammates in Adelaide.
The noticeable absence of the experienced defender, alongside captain Isabel Hodgson, has contributed to Adrian Stenta’s team conceding heavily at the back in the opening weeks of the new season.
The Reds have had a mixed start to the A-League Women, showing their attacking prowess by scoring five goals, while also conceding six in the other end, disappointingly only earning a single point from two home fixtures.
Despite her absence, Waldus’ potential influence on the Reds’ on-field fortunes remains evident to both the club and her teammates with the defender winning the Dianne Alagich Medal as the Adelaide’s Club Champion after Season 2020/21, along with being voted as the Player’s Player of the Season in the same campaign before earning a move to PSV.
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Waldus has not been able to see the field in the first weeks of the new A-League Women’s season due to her ongoing recovery from foot surgery. She admits that even though she does not get nervous before the games she plays, the story is different when she’s a spectator.
“I think it’s always hard to watch from the sidelines,” she said.
“Normally for a game, of course, you have some natural nerves, but I’m not that nervous. But when I’m in the stands it’s like, ‘oh my god’, like, I’m so nervous and it’s just very confronting but I’m there to support my team and my teammates, and I want them to win and succeed.”
Once fully fit, Waldus will likely join Young Matilda Ella Tonkin in the heart of her side’s defence in what is promising to be a formidable partnership that combines the youth and experience of two uncompromising defenders that are capable with the ball at their feet.
The Reds have taken the opportunity that the international break has provided to reset and review their start to the season, working on tactics and ensuring a new-look group is on the same page when it comes to Adrian Stenta’s game plan.
Waldus took the opportunity of an internal trial match to return to competitive match conditions. The defender shared that she pulled up sore, but that she was able to return to training days after which signals that her recovery is just about complete.
“I think I was a bit rusty. Some things went quite well but some things I could definitely improve,” admitted Waldus.
“It was really good to start with a game like that because then you know, you have the feeling (of playing) a bit again.
For me personally, it was good and after, I felt a little bit like a grandma and now after the weekend the good thing is that Monday I got back to training and I felt better and I felt more comfortable on the field so that’s been good for me.”
Waldus’ return to full-team training and her involvement in Adelaide United’s internal trial have seen her deemed as available for the club’s first away game of the season to Melbourne Victory.
The Dutch defender is unsure if she will be involved, with the decision resting on her coach, but she itching to get back on the park, with her experience and defensive prowess set to be invaluable if the Reds are to return to the Finals Series this campaign.
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