The saying goes, once a Matilda, always a Matilda and although now retired from professional football, Alicia (Eesh) Ferguson-Cook has never strayed far from the game she loves.
She is currently at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup with Optus Sport, providing the kind of insight, behind the scenes access and support only someone who has walked in the shoes of these Aussie players, can provide.
Former Matildas teammate, Sarah Walsh, who is also covering the World Cup was the one who put Ferguson-Cook forward for the job and it was one that she couldn’t refuse.
“I was having a chat with Walshy and she let me know about the Optus gig because she’d done some work with them before and wanted to recommend me to cover the Women's World Cup,” Ferguson-Cook said.
Optus clearly saw the benefit of having someone with first-hand insight, jumping at the opportunity to have the Brisbane Roar alumni onboard.
“I had a chat to Richard Bayliss at Optus and he was really keen to have someone who was quite familiar with the players and it was a no brainer for me,” she said.
“We’re covering every single game, that’s the biggest thing - I love that the investment in this World Cup – even their investment in me is so huge, so I was really excited to be a part of that because we’ve never had that in Australia before.”
As the Matildas head into their Round of 16 match against Norway, Ferguson-Cook knows exactly how the team would feel, competing in two World Cups, an Olympic Games and working the 2011 World Cup.
Going into such a ‘do or die’ type match would rattle even the toughest of athletes, but Ferguson-Cook said, that isn’t the case for the Aussies because the Matildas are at their best under pressure.
“I think they’d be focused on trying to get a really good coffee, going for a swim and having an afternoon nap today,” she said.
“I just think we play so much better when we’re under pressure, where we’ve got our backs up against the wall and we have to really fight for something. We have to fight today and I think that’s when we’re at our best.
“These girls are really experienced, so right before kick-off there will be a few butterflies, but they know they’ve got a job to do and they’re professionals, they’ve been through it before so I think there will be more excitement than nerves tonight.”