The Matildas' Queenslanders had an emotional reunion with their former physiotherapist Jo Boon, who is battling Motor Neurone Disease, in Brisbane.
The Matildas have held an emotional reunion with former physiotherapist Jo Boon, who has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
As many as nine Queenslanders in the Australian women's national soccer squad, bar one, have crossed paths with Boon during their time at the Queensland Academy of Sport.
Boon was the therapist when Katrina Gorry, Clare Polkinghorne, Mackenzie Arnold, Tameka Yallop, Hayley Raso, Aivi Luik, Teagan Micah and Cortnee Vine were emerging teenagers at the academy.
Mary Fowler, who grew up in Cairns, is the exception.
The players met with Boon, who was informed of her terminal illness in 2019, after training at the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre (QSAC) on Sunday.
"Jo is just another crucial member of the team that's actually behind the team," former Matilda, fellow Queenslander and head of delegation Alicia Ferguson said.
"Any athlete will tell you how important physiotherapists are to the team environment and even the physio room.
"The physio room is where the treatment happens, getting players back on the pitch keeping them on the pitch.
"It's where the gossip happens. It's where the counselling happens. It's the safe space for athletes and so that relationship between the physios and the players is absolutely crucial because it's one of trust.
"Physios are really such a crucial role within the team environment because they need to maintain those positive vibes when there's some big emotions going on.
"Jo had such a positive influence on us, which is why it's so great to reconnect with her after all these years. It's just great to see her and just hopefully to let her know what big of an impact she had on all our lives."
While dealing with her own health battle, Boon has worked to fundraise more than $100,000 towards finding a cure for MND.
She will attend Thursday's clash with Nigeria as a fan, and delighted in seeing the players she knew as teenagers reach arguably the biggest moment of their career.
"I'm super proud, honestly," Boon told the players.
"It was a little bit of input but it'll live with me forever."
Before leaving, Boon told games record-holder Polkinghorne "we need a statue of you" in Brisbane.
And she gave the players a simple piece of advice: "Kick arse."