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The Matildas’ Katrina Gorry on Making History

January 1 | 3 minute watch


Words by Arabella Roden; Interview by Kat Sasso

Originally published on | June 3

In our MECCA M-POWERED interview series, fearless women from around the globe share their incredible stories – from overcoming adversity to following their passions and inspiring a future generation of female changemakers.

Katrina Gorry has risen to the pinnacle of women’s football as part of the Matildas squad, and won hearts during last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign – with her two-year-old daughter, Harper, cheering her on from the stands.

It marked a milestone for the midfielder; at one point, Gorry believed she would “never” return to football – but return she did! With the Matildas set to kick off their Paris Olympics campaign next month, and Gorry's fiancée, artist Clara Markstedt (herself a retired footballer for Swedish club Vittsjö), pregnant with the couple’s first child together, there's a lot to look forward to. 

With the new Stan Original Documentary Trailblazers, in partnership with MECCA M-POWER now streaming only on Stan, The MECCA Memo sat down with Gorry to chat about making history and motherhood, and how she feels about being called a trailblazer.


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“Running on the fields in the green and gold after I had [Harper] – feeling more in love with the game than I ever had before – it was a really special time for me.”

Katrina Gorry

Born in Brisbane, Queensland, Katrina Gorry began playing football (soccer) at the age of eight – following in her older brothers’ footsteps: “I loved going to watch them and I just wanted to do everything that they did,” she recalls, adding that after an ill-fated attempt to have her play netball, her mother relented and enrolled her in a kids’ team – and Gorry promptly “fell in love with the game”.

“I loved to get in amongst it with the boys, so most of the teams I played with until I was about 13 were with boys. I loved the challenge, I loved the competition,” she says. While she humbly describes herself as “quite good”, her talent was clear – and enough to secure her a place at the Queensland Academy of Sport and then the Brisbane Roar team in Australia’s W-League at the tender age of 21 (and was the first-ever player to sign a multi-year contract).

She’d go on to play for clubs in Japan, the US, Norway and Sweden before signing with the elite West Ham United in the UK’s Super League, debuting in January this year.

But while Gorry calls football her “safe place” – particularly as a young gay woman – there was a time she never thought she’d return to the sport: during her pregnancy with Harper, who was conceived via IVF.

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“For a long time, I didn't really love the game,” she reveals. “I kind of resented it a fair bit – just being away from my family all the time. I had no expectation of getting back to football when I fell pregnant with Harper.”

Yet, something miraculous would happen following her daughter’s birth: the passion for her sport reignited.

“When I held her in my arms the first time, I wanted to get back to it and to make her proud,” Gorry says, naming her ‘comeback game’ as a Matilda one of the proudest moments of her career: “For me, running on the fields in the green and gold after I had her – feeling more in love with the game than I ever had before – it was a really special time for me.

“At the time I had Harp, you didn't really have many athletes combining both [motherhood and professional sport]; I think, for the most part, we thought that if we wanted to start a family, we would have had to hang up our boots.”

Gorry remains thankful to the clubs that signed her as a young mother, and to Football Australia “to allow me to play my best football, to go away with the national team and have Harper right alongside me.”

“I think now to be breaking down those barriers and showing that you can juggle both of them actually makes you become a better footballer,” Gorry adds. That juggle is about to get more complex for Gorry and her fiancée, Clara (pictured right), with a new baby about to arrive – but she remains optimistic.

Gorry with her fiancée, Clara Markstedt, and daughter Harper.

“Obviously travel's gonna become pretty hard and things like that, but Clara's incredible and I think it's such an amazing environment for the kids to be in – to have such incredible strong women around them all the time,” she says, adding, “Football becomes your family. It's so good to see so many clubs, so many national teams now doing it – people talking about it, wondering how we can do it better.

“And yeah, I think it's going to be pretty incredible to see what happens in the next couple of years and for the future generation as well.”

I always knew the Matildas were special… We’ve not only changed football, we’ve changed sport in Australia forever

Blazing a trail

The Stan Original Documentary Trailblazers charts how the Matildas have overcome the odds to become icons of women’s sport, and Gorry feels privileged to be part of that story. The release of Trailblazers will be supported by an impact campaign, sharing the film's messages and sparking discussion in schools, businesses and sports clubs around the country – with the ultimate goal of advancing gender equality both in sports and more broadly.

“As athletes, we will always wanna change the game and leave it in a better place for when we started, but I always knew that the Matildas were special. I think what we've done in the last couple of years, the way that we've not only changed football, we've changed sport in Australia forever,” Gorry tells The MECCA Memo.

“We've been able to kind of use our voice to help people, whether it's mental health, motherhood, injuries… We love the game, but to be able to impact people in different ways, you know, that's another reason why we play.”

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Yet there’s still a long way to go – particularly in pay parity with men’s sports, which makes it especially difficult for parents to stay playing the game. However, Gorry notes women’s football is on the rise in Australia with larger stadiums and more support at the grassroots level.

“I think we're going to still keep on growing, keep on using our voices and hopefully keep on changing football,” she says.

Ensuring the Matildas legacy is a positive one is close to Gorry’s heart: “To make sure we inspire the younger generation – inspire anyone that watches us and that that go through those challenges as well. I'm so glad that it's become a real platform for all of us.”

And to young women everywhere, Gorry’s advice is clear: “Take all the opportunities that you can get, enjoy every moment of it because it does go so quickly. Stay present and enjoy the cr*ppy sessions 'cause they're usually the ones where you learn the most.''

Hit play on the video above to watch the trailer for the Stan Original Documentary Trailblazers, and click here to watch the full film, only on Stan.

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