There’s belief Australia is yet to witness what the emerging generation is fully capable of, and Melbourne Victory’s Jessika Nash is leading the charge.
The defender captained the Young Matildas in their AFC U-20 Women’s Asian Cup Round 1 Qualifiers in Kyrgyz Republic, where they went through the first stage undefeated.
“I think we definitely sent the rest of Asia a message that we’re ready to go and hopefully continue the same form throughout the rest of the campaign,” Nash said.
“Overall, the girls were proud, but we know we’re going to keep on pushing and improving to hopefully qualify for the Asian Cup and the World Cup in the future.”
Nash has been selected in the Future Matildas program for the second year and said the support of these types of programs was setting the Young Matildas up for greatness.
“I think the ability to compete with the best was showcased in our football, and I think that was just a glimpse,” she said.
“Australia hasn’t got to see the full potential that this Young Matildas circle has got to offer. I know that I can sense the greatness coming from within the group and I just know that the work ethic of each player that steps onto that pitch is determined to get that number one spot.
“We know that when we’re playing our best football we can compete with anyone.”
Nash said the program set the stage to showcase their talent to the best coaches across Australia, including Young Matildas coach Leah Blaney.
“It really builds you into becoming a true professional and putting that step forward to becoming hopefully what would be a Matilda, and whatever you aspire to be in your future,” Nash said.
“I think these Future Matildas programs are very key and essential for building the ultimate footballer.”
Nash has played 14 matches so far this season in her first at Melbourne Victory, and she was full of praise for the Club on and off the pitch.
“I use the saying ‘the people make the place’, and I absolutely love this club at the moment and the true professionalism that’s displayed,” she said.
“From the get-go Jeff [Hopkins] has been immense with my development. His dedication to improving my game and every single individual at Melbourne Victory is incredible. The hours that he puts in, it’s hard to explain the type of coach he is.
“He’s just someone that establishes great relationships … and really drives you to get the best out of us no matter what, whether that be in life or in football.”
Within the group of players, she said she had taken away learnings from each one of them.
Victory have an opportunity to further cement fourth position when they visit Canberra United on Saturday. Nash said there was a sense of confidence around the group.
“These last few games, we’ve shown up and we know that,” Nash said.
“Even games against City, great opponents, but at the end of the day we turn up and we get the job done.
“I think that’s what a championship winning team does. I think in pressure moments we lift and we come out on top. I think that’s something we’re really showcasing in these final games.”