Ex-Matildas vice-captain Joanne Peters has praised the Australians after their 2016 Rio Olympics campaign but believes the benchmarks set prior to the tournament will act as a wake-up call in the future.
Peters holds 110 Australian caps to her name and was vice-captain from 2003 to the end of her career in 2009. She partook in the last Olympic campaign Australia was involved in prior to Rio 12 years ago in Athens.
Lisa De Vanna was the only remaining survivor from the 2004 campaign and the message coming from the camp since March was an aim of winning a medal.
The Matildas managed a third place finish in Group F and fell at the quarter-finals in a penalty shootout to Brazil, recording one win from four matches in their campaign.
Peters conceded there were similar expectations in the tournament she was involved in and believed the extra pressure added internally marred the courageous performances displayed by Australia.
“For me the interesting thing was they publicly declared they were after a medal and even some of them would say ‘we’re going after gold’," Peters told FourFourTwo.
"That puts a dampener on things, from their perspective I’m thinking ‘they’ve failed their campaign, it’s been a failure’.
“They’ve basically lived up to their expectations by qualifying and to put that extra pressure on themselves, whether that helped with their motivation it becomes dangerous because now from their point of view it would be a failed campaign, so that needs to be addressed now.
“If you thought you could win a medal from where you’re at now, then you obviously don’t have a good awareness of where your teams at.
"It would be nice to have some discussions, I know after the World Cup last year - it was all about celebrating the Matildas success which is awesome.
“I think there equally needs to be a balance to make sure we’re continually improving and critiquing, we keep moving forward and so we’re not satisfied with what’s happened and we do aspire to medals and to win. At the same time, with respect and self-awareness of where we’re at.”
Despite being unable to attain a medal at the Olympics, Peters lauded the Matildas’ achievements over the last 12 months. Australia is currently ranked fifth in the world and had an undefeated run in the Asian Olympic Qualifiers earlier in the year.
Peters also highlighted a steady development in women’s football since she played, highlighting the move to the Asian Confederation and the recent performances in the World Cups as indications of good progression.
“I thought it was exciting as and they performed really well in the Olympic games," she said.
"I thought the style of play they carried out is one which will get long term success, which I think is important for our future.
"They definitely did the sport and our country proud in the way they went about their football as always.
“It’s wonderful now to be able to talk to people, they actually know players and they watch the games.
"It’s not like ‘did you know the Matildas were playing?’ people will come up to each other and say ‘how about those Matildas?’.
“In the end that’s all I think female athletes want, we want people to engage with what we’re doing, we’re so passionate about it, so it’s wonderful to be able to share that passion.
“To see now the community is embracing it, it’s been the best kept secret, I’ve always known it’s an amazing sport and women are putting their lives on the line here to dedicate themselves to the game, the love of it basically.
“We want it to be recognised, when we do get the recognition, whether that’s monetary compensation or the community appreciating the game and embracing it more, they’re all what we actually strived for and what we’re very proud of to achieve.”
Peters currently works her trade on the Central Coast for and holds a full-time coaching role for the International Football School and had formed a personal coaching methodology which is the ‘game play learn approach’ which is mainly aimed at children under 18.
“I’ve got a website http://www.gameplaylearn.net/ and I’ve just ticked that off in the last few months to be able to promote a modern approach to learning for kids which I feel get let down a lot by adults,” she said.
“This is the most exciting thing for me at the moment, but I enjoy coaching from a development aspect and I just trying to keep encouraging the women’s game and young girls playing as well.”