Galabadaarachchi: I want to show everyone the type of player I am

It's been five years since Jacynta Galabadaarachchi has been called up for national team camp, with her selection to the CommBank Matildas' squad set to take on Spain and Portugal, coming off the back of a stellar season in the Scottish Women's Premier League.

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"I was shocked but also so excited, honoured and grateful to be invited to these upcoming games against Spain and Portugal.

"I've been working really hard and I've had quite a good season, so when I got the call, I felt like I was being rewarded for that," the young forward said.

Fans and followers of the 21-year-old know that Galabadaarachchi is entering camp off the back of an incredible run. Aside from helping her team, Celtic FC, raise the Scottish Cup last month, individually, Galabadaarachchi won the Scottish PFA's Young Player of the Year award and Celtic's Player of the Season award.

When asked if collecting such accolades and grabbing the attention of CommBank Matildas' Head Coach Tony Gustavsson had been a goal of hers, the youngster simply explained that her focus was always on the present and letting the results speak for themselves.

"I just take it day-by-day. My coach always says, 'If you work as hard, you'll get rewarded,' so in every training session, in every game, I fight, I work as hard as possible" the Junior and Young Matilda said. 

"I wasn't really thinking about any individual awards, I just wanted to do the best for the team."

Galabadaarachchi is one of many in camp who ply their trade overseas, but she was one of the first to play football in the United Kingdom.

After spending three years in the A-League Women's with Melbourne City and Perth Glory, a then-teenage Galabadaarachchi signed with West Ham United in London in 2019, before playing with Napoli in Italy and now, Celtic in Scotland. 

As a child, the gifted youngster was offered the opportunity to trial with Manchester United and to spend eight weeks training with the Manchester City Academy, so playing in England was always on the radar.

"From the time I was nine years old, I would tell my parents that I wanted to play in Europe, so I jumped at the opportunity when it came up," she said. But, the move was not without its challenges for one so young.

"It was really tough leaving home and leaving my family, because we're really, really close," she shared. "I was homeschooled since I was little, so I spent all my time with my family.

"It was a hard transition but after two and a half, three years, I'm finally comfortable and I feel like I've grown up a lot."

Finally feeling settled, Galabadaarachchi believes the European leagues are where she will continue to thrive, with the style of play suiting her well and, women footballers commanding the same respect that men do.

"I love the style of football they play, it's so aggressive, so technical, so fast-paced and the level of professionalism in England is crazy, especially in the last few years," she said.

"Women footballers are treated amazingly, and it's getting closer and closer to how the men are treated. The leagues are really, really far ahead in that sense."

The forward also credits Celtic coach, Fran Alonso for her move to the club and her resulting success.

"I pretty much went to Celtic because of the coach, Fran. He's a Spanish coach and the style of play that he implements really suits me. He lets me express the player that I am and be quite free on the pitch," she explained.

"It's helped me to grow as a player in terms of finally being able to be myself, and he's also helped me with the other side of my game, like the hard work, that aggression, things that aren't just technical. Now I feel like I'm more of a complete player."

When speaking about which of these qualities she hopes to bring into the CommBank Matildas fold, Galabadaarachchi hopes her creativity and perceptive nature will add value to the team.

"I think I'm quite creative and technical. I like dribbling. I like playing a lot of through balls and creating a lot in the final third, seeing things that other players maybe don't see, like finding a little pocket of space, things like that are what I hope I can bring to the team.

"I just want to give it the best that I can and show everyone what I can do and the type of player that I am. I just want to be myself and we'll see how it goes!"


Spain v Australia  
Date: Saturday, 25 June (local) / Sunday, 26 June (AUS)  
Time: 9.30pm (local) / 5.30am (AEST)  
Venue: Estadio Nuevo Colombino, Huelva  
Broadcast: Network 10, 10 Play and Paramount+  
Portugal v Australia  
Date: Tuesday, 28 June (local) / Wednesday, 29 June (AUS)  
Time: 9.00pm (local) / 6.00am (AEST)  
Venue: Estádio António Coimbra da Mota, Estoril  
Broadcast: Network 10, 10 Play and Paramount+ 

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This article was originally published on the CommBank Matildas website.