Big-hearted ‘Mini’ ready to bounce into action

She might be short on stature, but Australia midfielder Katrina Gorry is big on heart. That much is undeniable, cliched or not. Standing at just 154cm Gorry is one of the smallest players in the tournament. A whirring bustling ball of metronomic energy in the centre of the park, Gorry makes driving runs into the penalty area and scores long-distance goals of rare quality with impressive regularity.

Affectionately nicknamed ‘Mini’ by her team-mates, Gorry is aiming to cap a stellar 12 months by achieving success at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup™. She scored a succession of attention-grabbing strikes to help the Matildas qualify for Canada 2015, followed that up with a National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) championship at Kansas City, and capped it all with an unexpected coronation as 2014 AFC Women’s Player of the Year.

The hard road It was not always so glorious for the Brisbane-born 22-year-old. Far from it. In fact Gorry worked in a café until a few months ago to make ends meet. Even then she only gave up the job - sacrificing a large chunk of her meagre income in the process - to concentrate on a shot at the big time among the world’s elite in Canada.

“I didn’t want to be on my feet all day and it is hard on the body when you then go to training and you start to fatigue.” Gorry told FIFA.com. “It has been difficult not being on a good wage but not doing that has helped. We sacrifice so much for the game but we play because we love it, and it just doesn’t matter at the end of the day.”

It is far from the first time Gorry has gone down the road less travelled to achieve her dream. She moved away from home as a raw 15-year-old to travel across the country and play for Adelaide United in the W-League. “It was a challenge but definitely something that made me stronger, and having that experience at a young age made more mature as a person.

“I was watching the Women’s World Cup at home four years ago in the lounge room. I have looked forward to this World Cup ever since. I knew it was something I wanted to achieve but I didn’t think it would happen within four years. To be part of it now is a dream come true. I had a photo on the fridge with a picture of the Matildas saying ‘this will be me’.”

Monday’s opening group match against USA will hold extra resonance for Gorry given her spell Stateside. Indeed, aside from Canada and Mexico, there were more Australians in the all-professional NWSL than players from any other nation.

“It will be awesome to play against them ,” said Gorry. “And hopefully we can show everyone how far we have come. Many of the Matildas have been playing overseas, especially in America so we know how they play, and the type of players we are up against, so that gives us a foot in the door. We have done our analysis and hopefully everything comes together on the field.

“The Matildas always seem to be underdogs. But we have a never say die attitude and we play until we drop. We have in the back of our mind that we can do some damage.”