Cheryl Salisbury is considered by many as a pioneer for females in the world of Australian football. Not only was she the former captain to the Matildas, but she also has the title as the most capped player in the country. Now her contribution is being celebrated when she will become the first women to be inducted in the country’s Sports Hall of Fame.
The 45-year-old Salisbury started playing soccer at the young age of seven when she joined the boys from her local neighbourhood in the streets. From playing in the streets of a Newcastle, she rose to debut for the Australian national team at the age of 20 during 1994 against Russia. During her career, she represented her country 151 times on the field. This is the highest number for players of both genders in the country. Salisbury was captain to the Matildas until her retirement in 2009. She played centre back during four World Cups as well as in two Olympic Games. During these games, she managed 38 goals for Australia.
Being a Pioneer in the Sport
Salisbury stated that during her childhood years, she never had any exposure to women playing football. It wasn’t something she even saw on television. She also lacked having a role-model to look towards for inspiration. Therefore she aspired to be like Craig Johnston because they both are from Newcastle. She remembers seeing him play on televised games and she knew that she would never be able to win him due to him being a boy. Her first real exposure to women in the sport was during the World Cup in 1995. She mentioned that this was the first time which is indeed sunk in that women all over the world are involved in playing the sport.
There are a couple of highlights which stand out from her career. For her, one of these moments was when she was able to represent Australia during the Olympic Games hosted on local soil in Sydney. Another is definitely when FIFA named her twice in the Women’s World XI squad during 2004 and again in 2007. Another fond memory for her is remembering the days when she would sit too close to the television and continually being told to move back before her eyes turn square, nailed to any game which was televised.
Already then her passion for this sport showed and it is the passion and commitment over many years which earned her now the privileged position to be inducted as an Athlete Member into The Sport Australia Hall of Fame. This is indeed another excellent opportunity for her to be a role model for young girls sharing the same passion for the sport which brought her this far. It is her golden opportunity to continue her legacy and being someone whom she was looking for as a young and aspiring female footballer.