November 27, 2013
Rugby league reporter
“No rivalry”: Lisa De Vanna’s controversial tackle on Ellyse Perry. Photo: Getty Images
There are few tougher in women’s football than Lisa De Vanna, but the Matildas striker’s on-field aggression is often misinterpreted.
A self-confessed ”problem child”, who left school and her home in Perth as a 16-year-old to chase her football dreams, De Vanna’s hard-nosed approach to the game has earned her a reputation as one of the most intimidating players in the sport.
Last week, she made the shortlist for FIFA’s Puskas Award for the best goal of 2013, with Antonio Di Natale, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Nemanja Matic and Neymar, but a confrontation with dual international Ellyse Perry has taken the gloss off the achievement.
Standing tall: Matildas soccer star Lisa de Vanna.Photo: Peter Rae
Melbourne Victory’s De Vanna, the two-goal hero from Sunday’s 2-0 win against China in Wollongong, injured Sydney FC’s Perry in a tackle during the round one W-League game. She has also been accused of kicking and punching Perry during the clash in Melbourne; accusations De Vanna has strongly denied.
The Herald understands Perry didn’t hold back expressing her thoughts about De Vanna during the game at Lakeside Stadium on November 10, however De Vanna insists she never intended to injure her former Matildas teammate, nor does she hold a grudge against her given her profile as the face of female sport in Australia.
”There’s no catfight, there’s no rivalry between us, it’s just a game of football,” De Vanna said before Wednesday night’s second friendly against China at Pirtek Stadium.
”I play aggressively, I go in hard,” she said. ”It’s no different to any game you seen in the Premier League. Tackles happen and words are exchanged. I still would have went into that tackle the same, regardless of whether it was Ellyse Perry or not.
”I understand as an athlete you have to do things on the side to make money in whatever sport you do. But I’m more of a person who strives on doing stuff on the field and being the best I can. If you asked me if I was jealous of any player in the world, I’d say America’s Alex Morgan. Not because of how she looks, but because she’s got medals to show for all her great skills on the field.”
This month, De Vanna was made Football Federation Australia’s female player of the year. The recent portrayal of her as the thug of women’s football created a public backlash, and she was under fire on social media.
”It more affected me that it was a step backwards in women’s football if that’s the only thing that can be written about,” she said. ”Who I am as a footballer is quite different to who I am off the field. I’m actually quite boring. How I play is how I express myself. Being so aggressive and feisty and determined has taken me to the best leagues in the world against the best players.”
De Vanna is working with FFA to become a social worker after football. The 29-year-old, who lost her father before the 2007 World Cup, has earned everything she has achieved in the sport. While she admits she was far from role-model material as a teenager, she believes she can have a positive influence on those who lead similar lives to what she did.
”I was 16 years old chasing a dream when I moved to Adelaide, with nothing in my pocket, to play in the old W-League and I didn’t get one cent for that,” she said. ”Moving out of home at a young age, I missed a lot of big milestones. I never finished school. I was a problem child, because all I really wanted to do was play football.
”But I’m trying to make up for that now and for some reason I’ve always had a connection with kids and adults who aren’t as privileged as others.”
The Sydney Morning Herald