Chelsea’s “world-class” Sam Kerr has set the bar "so high” for women’s football in Australia, says Matildas team-mate Ellie Carpenter.
Carpenter is one of the country’s many stars now plying their trade at a top European club, having joined seven-time Women’s Champions League winners Lyon in 2020 – helping them retain the trophy shortly afterwards.
But the defender was keen to pick out the contributions of Kerr in the rise of the game in Australia, adding that she is “very honoured” to play alongside the national team’s all-time top goalscorer.
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What has been said?
Speaking in an exclusive interview with GOAL, Carpenter said: “There's so much that we can achieve now, being an Australian international and with the team as well.
“You look at Sam and I think she's done so much for women's football, especially in Australia. She's moved the bar so high.
"I think she's a world-class player and she's paved the way for us. I'm very honoured to be her team-mate, as well.
“There's so much opportunity for us now as Australian players. We have the backing of so many people in Australia and the support is like none other.
"I think you can see that with the funding and the camps and the oppositions we're now playing on home soil. We can bring USA out. We can bring Brazil out.
“The opportunity is there for us to be a world-class team and top five in the world, and that's what we're building towards.
"Then, individually, we have a lot of our players now in big clubs in Europe. We're trying to push the bar even higher and then inspire the next generation of Australians to do that also.”
Despite being only 21, Carpenter believes she is someone that can help the next generation too.
Having made her senior club debut at home at 15, then moved to the NWSL in the United States at 18, she has a lot of experience already.
“When I came into the Matildas set-up, I don't think there was anyone playing in Europe or at a big European club,” she said.
“For those young girls coming in and seeing so many of us playing at those clubs, it only inspires them.
"I look back and if I came into the team and I saw someone at Lyon or someone at Chelsea, I think I would idolise that person. I would just want to be like them.
“I think it's so special now that we have so many of us at big clubs and it's just going to help the next generation.
"I feel so proud and lucky that I am that person that people can look at or look up to and proud that I am paving the way almost, even though I am still quite young.
“I do speak to the [young Australian] girls a lot. I do tell them that going overseas for me at that age was the best thing that I've ever done.
“I definitely tell them that if they do have the opportunity, then I think they should embrace that.”
‘There is opportunity for women in football in Asia’
Those opportunities are not just in Europe or in North America anymore, either.
Earlier this year, the new, fully-professional WE League began in Japan, as the growth of women’s football in Asia continues.
Carpenter’s enthusiasm about that growth is clear from her involvement with the SingaCup, an event in Singapore that gives young boys and girls the chance to participate in several footballing activities.
Her words also show that she is looking to continue to push the game forward in Asia, like players such as Kerr have done.
“Having so many good leagues near Australia now, in the Asian Confederation, it's going to help the football grow,” she added.
“Imagine in two or three years, especially after the World Cup [in Australia and New Zealand], there are going to be many more opportunities and leagues that are growing. It's a very, I would say, prime time in women's football.
“No matter where you come from – Australia, Singapore, Japan – I just want to let people know that there is opportunity out there for women, especially in football."