“I’ve never signed as many autographs as this year,” says Margot Robinne, the only Frenchwoman to play professionally in Australia

Margot Robinne, who has been playing in Australia since 2020 after starting her career in France, talks about the enthusiasm for women’s football at the national level.

She is the only Italian representative in the Australian professional league. Margot Robinne, 32 and three years old seasons in the A-League (the local league) with crampons, saw women’s football evolve in the country as the World Cup approached. It evokes the training and playing conditions, the level, but also the enthusiasm that has gradually built up around the Matildas.

Franceinfo sport: how did you come to play in Australia?

Margot Robin: Thanks to football I have met many people, including a former teammate who went to Australia. He played, but above all he wanted to develop academies, specific training groups for women’s football, in Victoria, in the Melbourne region. I was at TFC, I was kind of at the end of a cycle, I was bummed, an ankle injury. I said to myself why not join her and try to develop our own small business in Australia. When I was young I didn’t have much to train with, we played with the boys… And I always told myself that as soon as I had the chance to give back what football gave me, I would.

Is it this side of academia and development that particularly interested you?

Developing women’s football has always been important to me. I didn’t know anything about Australia, but developing something made me want to. Football in Australia is not the national sport, it is a small minor sport and the European and French know-how is highly recognised. Here they are still in development. Coming here made sense.

How was this season with Brisbane?

We were lucky to have the infrastructure of the national team, the one they use during the World Cup. It was a great environment to work in. Afterwards, you should know that the pro season is during the summer and the weather in Brisbane is consistently very humid and hot. It was very difficult for me to adjust. I was living with the American goalkeeper and a Swedish defender, and all three of us were really struggling in these temperatures. We go out and we are soaked, it’s tropical, like in Asia. It affects the shape, the physique.

How do you see the championship, the environment, the conditions?

It’s an evolving league. When I landed there were two teams down, since then they add one every year. They try to improve the general conditions. The good thing is, we’re under contract here. Salaries are not extraordinary, it’s a negotiation, but all players have a minimum salary. It’s not a great luxury, but it allows you to live normally, and it gives you some comfort during the season, when you can be full time. You train in the morning, you go to bodybuilding, on the field, you have access to doctors, to all physiotherapists, the cure is taken care of. Compared to the conditions I had in France, it’s much better here.

And in terms of level?

The level is not the same, it’s a very different football. Australian sports like footy, the national sport, are really athletic sports, and that’s the basis. Australian rules football is a bit based on soccer, they are real athletes. When Ellie Carpenter (Australian defender) arrived in France (Lyon), she was said to be a driving force, running everywhere, in all directions. This is the stereotype of Australian rules football. He’s less technical, he’s less tactical, but he’s very physical, very athletic, he goes everywhere and never stops. The Australian show is to give everything physically.

How do you explain these differences?

I was technical director of a club here, I was close to the league, I see how it works with the coaches, the diplomas and the training they receive. Here it is very different, it is very stereotypical, they will do the same training for more or less all age categories, even if the content is completely different. There are foundations that have not been completed and it shows in the players that they are developing. It’s good that foreigners come, it’s also the strength we have in Europe, there’s quality everywhere, knowledge, exchanges. Here they are far from everything and it’s not the national sport, so it’s complicated to evolve. But things are moving slowly, things are changing.

What is the crowd for women’s football in Australia?

There are few people in the professional league. All matches are televised, there is more visibility for women’s football, it helps to attract more people. Knowing they were hosting the World Cup, they started developing a product around the championship, they created a real brand around the national team. You feel that there is a craze for women’s sport, women’s soccer, nationwide. I’ve never signed as many autographs as this year, with little girls everywhere. They have done some operations, if you are registered in a football club and you are under 16 you can go and watch all the matches for free. They create communication, to fuel the dreams of young girls. I think we are missing in France. It’s everywhere, they’re on TV, it’s a real product, they’ve registered the trademark “Matilda” and they use it thoroughly.

He’s been a talking point all season, this home World Cup coming up? What chance do you give the Australians?

In my team I had a teammate who is going to the Worlds, Katrina Gorry, and we have two or three Matildas who came to train with us. When you train with the national teams, the World Cup at home, you inevitably hear about it. So yeah, we talked a lot about the World Cup. And because it is at home, Australians are very hungry, they are real fighters, it is the Australian state of mind that is quite powerful. We really feel a craze from the world around the players, who are hard at work.

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