Belated honour a feather in the cap for former Matilda
IT'S been 15 years since Belinda Kitching last played for her country.
But the retired Australian football goalkeeper got one last chance to experience what it was like to be a Matilda when she received her national cap on Sunday.
The 36 year old was honoured during half-time of the Matildas' 1-0 loss to Brazil at the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre, Brisbane.
Kitching, who lives in Hervey Bay but honed her skills playing in Ipswich, was presented with cap number 98, etching her name in Australian football history.
Speaking from her parents' house on Macleay Island, Kitching said she was honoured to be recognised for her contribution to the round-ball game.
"To be recognised for the time and effort I've put in to Australia's top team felt really accomplishing," she said.
"Nothing is going to beat that feeling when you walk out for your country and listen to the anthem, but receiving my cap was probably just as exciting and nerve-racking as actually wearing the emblem on my chest.
"It's something so small (the cap), but I'm stoked with what I've done and I think it's a brilliant idea."
Kitching was joined by former teammates Trae McGovern and Tammie Thornton on the QSAC field to accept her cap from Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop.
"I was speechless grabbing the cap because now I feel complete," she said.
"I enjoyed my time when I was a player and having received my cap, I'm happy now."
An inaugural member of the Queensland Academy of Sport women's football program, Kitching played 36 games for the Matildas, representing Australia from 1993-1999 with her last game being the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup.
From an early age, Kitching aspired to play for the Matildas, following in the footsteps of her late grandfather George Snr, who represented Australia in 1938 and 1939.
He is also set to be honoured with a national cap.
Kitching's father George, a goalkeeper, and uncle Wally, were also talented footballers, representing Queensland.
Kitching, who spends her time giving back to the game she loves by coaching, hoped her latest achievement would "encourage" more girls to take up sport.
"If it takes you further than you what you ever expect than it's an absolute bonus, but what I want is them to get out there, have some fun and learn how great the game is," she said.