Polias will look to control the Sydney FC midfield | (Credit: Cam Wheeler)
Sydney FC have plenty of well known stars and Matildas within their ranks. It’s one of the reasons that the Sky Blues find themselves in this Saturday’s grand final.
However, the contributions of their lesser known players have been equally important. One such player is the 152 cm pocket rocket, Teresa Polias.
Football is a family tradition for the Polias’, so it wasn’t surprising that at a young age Teresa would be next in the line of footballers.
“My brother started playing at about 8-9 years old and my twin sister and I were about 5-6 at the time,” she remembers. “So Dad took us along as we were at the age to start playing sport. I really enjoyed it and haven’t looked back since!”
From that time, the primary school student teacher has been in love with the sport. “I love the creativity that comes with football; the skill level it takes to play the game, the exercise and, of course, the sheer enjoyment I get from playing.”
However, it wasn’t until she saw the Matildas play at the age of 10 that she decided a football career might just be possible. What followed were stints with the Young Matildas under current coach Alen Stajcic and the Australian Schoolgirls.
With that success, Polias has also had to confront the challenge all young female footballers face; combining education and work with football.
"My last year of school and the first couple years of University were especially challenging because I was away a lot with the Young Matildas."
"It was stressful at times having assessments due during times we were away, however I learnt to manage my time the best I could and I’ve gotten through it- all the stress was worth it!"
Alongside her at every turn has been the person who first introduced her to the sport; her father. She credits him for much of what she has achieved.
“My dad has been the most influential person in my career. He is at every one of my games and has willingly driven me here, there and everywhere for training and games over the years.
“Most importantly he has always encouraged me to do the best that I can do and of course, enjoy the game!”
At only 20 years of age, Polias is already a veteran of the W-League having spent her first two seasons at the Central Coast Mariners.
At the Mariners Polias was mainly played off the bench with the occasional start but, although she didn’t get a large blocks of game time, she learnt plenty playing alongside former Matilda Kelly Golebiowski, American Kendall Fletcher and current teammates Rollason and Vandenbergh.
“Playing high quality and intensity football week in and week out has definitely helped my game,” Polias said.
“There’s no better way to improve your skills then in high pressure and intensity games like the ones you experience in the W-League.”
While she may not be the player scoring the goals or making the assists in goal scoring positions, Polias’ role in the team is crucial. A holding midfielder, she allows the likes of Heather Garriock, Kylie Ledbrook and Renee Rollason to move up the park secure in the knowledge that they have back up.
The midfielder has also been of great value defensively, often pushing back to support the back four or providing cover when Servet Uzunlar or Lydia Vandenbergh go on their runs. All that off the ball work is great but on the ball is where she shows that she is a real footballers’ footballer.
Armed with the requisite big engine, a killer first touch, good vision, and most importantly, accurate distribution, Polias is a large part of the reason why Sydney’s transition from defence to attack can be devastating for the opposition.
On Saturday, she will most likely come up against another quality holding midfielder in Brisbane’s Aivi Luik. Luik, at Matilda, is a more experienced version of Polias but she is not daunted.
“I can feel some nerves already but the nerves are more a result of my anticipation of the game,” she states.
“I’m anxious for game day to arrive already but most of all I am excited!”
While Saturday could be the culmination of a season’s work, it would not be the end of Teresa Polias’ football ambitions.
“My short term goal is to play consistent football and do my job well for the team.”
“A long term goal of mine, like most players in the W-League. is to hopefully one day represent the Matildas. I would also love to experience playing somewhere overseas in the future.”