It’s safe to say that Matilda Alanna Kennedy has been plagued by injury over the last 15 months.
Numerous setbacks helped to cast doubt around Kennedy’s World Cup ambitions, however the Manchester City back has scored a spot in the Matildas 23-player squad for the major tournament.
Kennedy says that giving up on her World Cup dream was never an option.
“I would never give up on myself like that,” she said.
“I’ve had a s**t couple of years to be honest…so now more than ever I was so determined to get back to where I am, and I was never going to just give up and let that be the end of my World Cup process.”
Her horror injury run began in April 2022 after breaking her nose going for a header against New Zealand. It would then continue when the defender suffered a hamstring injury in their opening friendly against World Cup group opponents Canada in September.
Kennedy was on the cusp of making a club return later in the month, however a shoulder fracture kept her out until December. The series of injuries would not stop there as the New South Welshman injured her calf on the verge of the April Matildas camp.
Now Kennedy is all systems go for her home World Cup campaign and says that she now feels more confident in her body than she did previously.
“The last few weeks I have felt so much more confident [in my body], I’m injury free,” she said.
“There’s been a good turnaround over the last probably six weeks, so my mindset has shifted.”
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In what was a difficult period for the experienced Matilda, she relied on the support of those closest to her, most notably the other players who were in rehab at the same time.
“Those connections are important,” she said.
“There [was] a lot of us who were injured at the time so we all leant on each other, we would try and check in. That’s a huge part of our identity on this team, the Matildas family as well, but it was super helpful for me.”
The Matildas as a collective, are in uncharted territory as this will be the first FIFA World Cup on Australian soil. It’s a proposition that Kennedy is looking to embrace.
“[This Matildas squad playing in a home World Cup] is never going to happen again,” she said.
“Over the last few years, some of the crowds we’ve been getting, and the atmosphere genuinely gives you more of a buzz on the pitch. So, our aim is to use it as a positive.”
Personally, the aunty to three is looking forward to playing in front of her family, especially her niece and nephews.
“That’s the best part [of a home World Cup], just knowing that [they’re all going to be here],” she said.
“My niece and two nephews who are everything, like I absolutely adore them [and they] don’t travel overseas sometimes. So, it’s just exciting for me to have them at the games.”
Australia will begin their World Cup campaign when they take on Ireland at Stadium Australia on 20 July.