CommBank Matildas debut an early birthday present for Holly McNamara

Following her Commonwealth Bank Matildas debut, there was one word Holly McNamara used more than any other: happy. 

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And why wouldn't she be happy? The Melbourne City striker is celebrating her 19th birthday in India, as part of the Australian squad for the AFC Women's Asian Cup, a day after her senior debut. 

"To make my debut feels great. It's just such an honour. I'm so grateful to everyone who supported me and has given me the opportunity to do this," she said post-game. 

The first international match caps off a whirlwind two weeks for the now 19-year-old. A fortnight ago she was simply enjoying life in the A-League Women's, playing in the top tier of women's football in Australia for the first time. Now, she's playing at Asia's showpiece tournament with the national team. 

"This two weeks has been quite crazy. It's been quite a shock and a little bit overwhelming. But I'm just glad to be here. I'm very happy."

Like many players, the adrenaline kicked in for McNamara when she was told to warm up and that she would be coming on.

While it was a crazy game to play in - she entered the fray at 14-0 up - her sole focus was to make an impact and play with confidence. She didn't look out of place and nearly made her presence felt on the scoresheet, hitting the post in what would have been an extra special debut. 

And while she didn't get on the scoresheet this time around, her Commonwealth Bank Matildas debut represents reward for not only a good A-League Women's season and impressive showings in training, but for her perseverance and resilience. 

HOW TO WATCH: Philippines v Australia

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READ: "It's important to treat a team with respect by playing our best game."

At 15 years old, McNamara tore her ACL while in camp with the Commonwealth Bank Junior Matildas. After a year of rehab, the pandemic and a stress fracture kept her off the park even longer. 

McNamara credits those closest to her with helping her through the injuries. 

"The biggest thing would be the support that I've gotten from everyone over the past two years. My family and friends have really helped me get through the tough times, to get to the good times. Their support has helped me become the player I am now." 

Unsurprisingly that support network was thrilled to see her make her debut with the family group chat popping off. 

"I definitely spoke to my parents straight away [after the match] and they were so proud of me. I've got a few videos from my siblings of my parents' reaction when I came on, a few screams, but they were very proud of me and very happy," McNamara said. 

Her debut was not the only milestone in the match with Sam Kerr overtaking Tim Cahill to become the all-time leading Australian goal scorer in international football. 

"First of all, congrats to Sam Kerr, what a feat that is to be the all-time leading goal scorer for Australia. She definitely deserves it. One of the hardest workers I've seen and after everything that she's come back from, it's amazing."

After scoring five goals, Kerr was on hand to present McNamara with her commemorative cap. 

"Getting my cap from her, especially after this milestone for her, was amazing. The little speech she gave me was very heartfelt and it meant a lot to me."

The focus for McNamara and the group now shifts to the match against the Philippines. The Commonwealth Bank Matildas will be hoping to continue pushing themselves and keep up the intensity as they look to progress out of the group stage. 

Commonwealth Bank Matildas Matches | AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022™ | Group Stage

Philippines v Commonwealth Bank Matildas
Date: Monday, 24 January 2022
Venue: Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai
Kick-off:  3.30pm (local), 9pm (AEDT)
Broadcast: Live and Exclusive on Network 10 and 10 Play

Commonwealth Bank Matildas v Thailand
Date: Thursday, 27 January 2022 / Friday, 28 January 2022
Venue: Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai
Kick-off: 7.30pm (local), 01:00am (AEDT)
Broadcast: Live and Exclusive on Network 10 and 10 Play

For more information on the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, please visit here.

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This article was originally published on the CommBank Matildas website.