For Westfield Matildas defender Alanna Kennedy, her lifelong love for football began in the backyard.
It was there on a patch of green in Campbelltown that older brother Dan and younger sister Alanna would play for hours with the round ball.
Those hours in the backyard, in the schoolyard and on the local football pitches among new friends would nurture that love of the game.
And it was those friends made through football, through sport, that would keep Kennedy in the game for over 15 years.
“Being able to do what you love with some of your mates is amazing,” Kennedy said.
“I am a very competitive person so being in an environment where you are challenged every day, always chasing more and more success and feeling like you are never content, always wanting to achieve more, has kept me in the game also.”
Staying in football has resulted in some unforgettable experiences for the Westfield Matildas. It has led to FIFA Women’s World Cups and Olympic Games; it has led to laughter and joy as she travelled the world with her best friends on the pitch and off the pitch.
It has also led to her motivating the next generation of girls to get in the game and many more to stay in the game.
With young girls dropping out of sport in their teens, the opportunity to inspire is one that Kennedy treasures and is a key reason why she is excited about the Westfield Matildas’ partnership with Cadbury.
“We’re delighted to have Cadbury on board to support the Westfield Matildas and the growth of our sport,” Kennedy said.
With the help of Cadbury, women’s football can continue to grow on the world stage and young girls can fulfil their dream of becoming a Westfield Matilda, or simply just have fun on the field with friends.”
Beyond the wonderful friendships and experiences, the Women’s Sport Foundation’s research has found that playing sport has many lifelong benefits.
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These can include increased academic performance as exercise improves learning, memory, and concentration. Learning the important social skills of teamwork and goal setting that are useful on the pitch and in the workplace. While regular participation in sport can also help with increased self confidence and help as a stress reliever.
For Kennedy, it has included an opportunity to broaden her horizons and experience the world from a different perspective.
“Some of the best things to come from my decision to stay in the game would be all the places that I get to travel around the world,” she stated.
All the different cultures, religions and races that you interact with I think really shapes you as a person. It becomes much bigger than just football, so I am very appreciative of those experiences.”
With their #CadburyGetintheGame campaign, Cadbury also understands the importance of girls and women being active and have put their support behind the growth and development of women’s sport in Australia.
“We feel incredibly passionate about encouraging and supporting the continued growth and equality of women’s sport in our country,” said Kathy De Lullo, Senior Marketing Manager.
“We’re thrilled to launch our Women in Sport initiative this year. As a brand, we want to show our commitment to the Australian community.”