It’s been an eventful couple of years for Ally Green, from overcoming injury and devoting her time to the football community, to taking out a W-League Championship title and being named Rebel Role Model of the year, Green’s contribution to the women’s game has been substantial.
Now, the Manly United stalwart is back in the National Premier Leagues NSW Women’s competition, ready to take on the challenge of being part of a new-look squad.
For several years, Manly United have enjoyed great success. In 2017 the squad took out the NPL NSW Women’s title and also found top four finishes in 2018, 2016 and 2015 but some significant shakeups have changed the game completely for the solid side.
“We’re going through a bit of a transition year this season,” Green said of her long-time team.
“For years we had a solid defence line of girls who had been with the club for a very long time. We lost every single one of them and to be honest, I think we went into the season a bit unprepared for how that would play out,” she explained.
“We were always that team that everyone wanted to beat and this season we’ve come back a much younger team, with our average age about 20.”
So far, the Manly side have played six games, resulting in one win, one draw and four losses, but Green says her side isn’t deterred this early in the season and find motivation in their new underdog persona.
“I think the key will be changing our mentality. We’ve been working as hard as ever both now and in pre-season, so we are not worried in that aspect, but we’ve had to embrace a new approach,” she explained.
“We’re the underdogs now. We need to fight and will continue to do that right until the end.”
At just 20 Green is now considered one of the more experienced players on the team, with her leadership skills shining both on and off the pitch, earning her the award of 2019 Rebel Role Model for both her service to the football community, her strength and her resilience.
After being signed for her first season of the W-League in 2017, Green suffered a severe ankle injury with the Young Matildas where she damaged four of her ligaments.
She was sidelined for eight weeks and two weeks after being given the green light to train with her new team, she injured her other ankle. The after effects of missing those essential first months of playing, ruled Green out of her entire debut season.
“After I came back from injury, due to having such a strong team it was hard to impress and that was really challenging mentally,” Green said.
“But in the end, it just made it all the more special this season, being able to start in the Grand Final and win the 2018/19 W League Championship, all that patience and hard work paid off.”
During her time away from the pitch, Green took on a role as Sydney FC’s Fan Engagement Coordinator. She was unable to play but still wanted to remain close to the game and involved in the club.
“During my injury in the 2017/18 W-League season and the 2018 off-season I got to the point of accepting I wasn’t going to play, but still wanted to be involved. I wanted to keep football at the forefront of my mind and contribute to the game on a different level,” she said.
“I would help run and attend charity and community events like holiday football clinics and school programs. I also ran a campaign to connect local clubs with a shuttle bus to get them to and from games.
“Being able to help behind the scenes and see how everything works from an administrative point of view was a great experience.”
It was these efforts that impressed the panel of judges who awarded Green Rebel Role Model, but the humble recipient said being able to give back to the game she loves, is the least she can do.
“These clubs give so much to us and so often we take it for granted. The women’s game is growing every year but clubs like Sydney FC and Manly United who provide us with so much, deserve that respect and that’s why it is so important for us to reach out and use our voices to help grow the game, especially at grassroots levels.
“If we can act as messengers to show these kids that their footballing dreams are just as achievable, that is the least we can do to give back.”
When asked if Manly United coach Chris Williams was surprised by Green’s award, he said the title was more than earned.
“I truly believe Ally deserves more recognition than what she gets, she’s the perfect role model for any player looking to breakthrough into the W-League.
“She’s worked so hard over the last few years to improve her game and on top of that, has shown dedication and patience during her time at Sydney FC, which was rewarded this year,” Williams said of Green’s achievements.
“I think her success over the past 12 months is evidence that staying humble, being patient and working hard are a great recipe for success.”
You can catch Ally and Manly United as they take on the Illawarra Stingrays at Cromer Park on Monday 22 April, 3:00pm.
-By Liana Buratti