By The White Line - instagram lists #feedolist

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I remember my first pair of football boots. They were hand-me-downs from my cousin - a blue pair of Total 90s. I loved them, but they never quite felt like mine. Once I got to choose my own boots, that became one of my favourite parts of the season. I was always on the lookout for something unique - I don’t think I ever owned a classic, black pair. I’d take them home, carefully pulling them out of the box, throwing the paper stuffed into them away. Lacing them up, I’d examine the pair closely, ensuring I was happy with my choice. Then came ‘wearing them in’, which meant stomping around the house, much to the dismay of the floor (and my parents, probably). But without a doubt, the most exciting part was that first kick. Juggling carefully inside, trying not to break anything (the ultimate test of control). New boots are always special; a way to express oneself. When this set arrived, it transported me back in time... I don’t think the novelty will ever wear off. #NewLights

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I’ll admit it, I was nervous. I’d only shot 5 games of NPLW this year, and I was wondering what I’d missed, and whether much had changed. As it turns out, I had no reason to worry; I’ve been welcomed back into the league which has given so much to me. A league which proves time and time again just how welcoming it can be. 2 years ago, Calder signed Ayana from Brisbane. A promising young goal keeper, who I had already crossed paths with, though she may not know this. In early 2017, Ayana was named to the bench for Brisbane Roar’s W-League clash against Melbourne City. I was in the stands in my photography bib, when a woman approached and asked if I could please take some photos of her daughter. She was incredibly excited, it was her first game, and so I obliged, of course. It was Ayana’s mum. That memory sticks in my mind. It was my first season of W-League, and perhaps one of the first times I really started to appreciate how meaningful my photos could be. As Ayana left the field yesterday for the last time, her team mates rushed over to show their gratitude. The impact she’s had on this club is clear as day. Her final game before heading to college, a tidy 4-0 win. Not a bad way to go out. #NPLWVIC

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52 days ago I left Australia, with 10kg of clothes and 30kg of camera equipment. 3 countries and 16 games later, my time away has come to an end. It’s been a challenging trip in many respects, but it’s been so rewarding. I’ve met some incredible people along the way, and I’ll head home without regrets. I was asked yesterday about my motivation, and what I try to capture. It’s moments like this - the ones that make you feel something when you look at them. When there’s so much going on at a game, they sometimes slip under the radar. Telling those stories matters more than anything to me. Thanks for following my World Cup journey. #FIFAWWC #USANED

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The ultimate leader. Not just for your team, but for our time. Everything you stand for inspires me. Our game needs more people like you. Thank you. #FIFAWWC #USANED

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A few hours ago, an email landed in my inbox confirming something I’ve been dreaming about for a while; photographing a World Cup final. I’ve been in France for a month now, having covered 14 matches across 8 cities. I’ve seen incredible wins and heartbreaking losses. Prior to the tournament starting, I shot matches featuring both of these teams against the Matildas. The atmosphere at both these games was indescribable, and they were only friendlies. The American and Dutch fans going head to head is almost as exciting to me as the match. Whatever happens, I feel honoured that I now get to cover the biggest game our sport has to offer. Bring on Sunday. #FIFAWWC

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Van der Donk. Magic. The playmaker, twisting and turning, faking left and right, the ball seemingly on a string. An absolute joy to watch. I can’t wait to see what she brings to the final. 🔥 #NEDSWE #FIFAWWC

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4 years ago @oranjeleeuwinnen qualified for the World Cup for the first time. Just 4 years on and they’re into the final. Incredible. #NEDSWE #FIFAWWC

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Moments we won’t forget anytime soon. The contrast of the highs and lows. It’s a strange feeling, focusing on tears and then smiles within seconds of each other. Happy for one, sad for the other. England so close to a World Cup final, pushing the powerhouse that is the USA until the very end. It was a nerve-wracking finish, but the Americans showed exactly why they’re the top-ranked team. There’s this expectation of greatness thrust upon them, and yet they continue to turn up, game after game. What a team. #FIFAWWC #ENGUSA

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Elation and agony. Knockout football. #FIFAWWC #ENGUSA

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My ears are still ringing. The sounds of the crowd reverberated around Parc des Princes for 90+5 minutes. Thunderous. One of the greatest sporting spectacles I’ve ever witnessed. Boy, was it tough though. Extra seats added at the last minute for photographers, so high was the demand. Swarming towards the middle before kick off, only hit in the head once - a small victory, perhaps. Even before the match started, the atmosphere was electric. The French and American fans battling it out, but it was the impromptu rendition of La Marseillaise that brought tears to my eyes. 0-1 down, the French fans desperately tried to lift their team. Ultimately it wasn’t enough; the Americans coming up trumps. A masterclass from Megan Rapinoe, but did we expect anything less? The Americans quickly disappeared from the pitch post match, for this was just another game. It means nothing if they haven’t won it all. As for the French, they slowly made their way around the ground to resounding applause. Devastation on full display; it’ll take a while for this to sink in. Hard to watch, and even harder to capture. I have a newfound appreciation of the highs and lows of knockout matches. Watching dreams simultaneously being achieved and crushed certainly isn’t easy. “It’s part of the job!” you might say, but at the end of the day, these players are human. They’re not just athletes. They’re real people, facing real challenges. Every time I go out to shoot, I remind myself of that. #FRAUSA

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1. 2. Bronze. #NORENG #FIFAWWC

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On a rare day where there was no football match or travel between cities, I took some time out to visit the #fifamuseum in Paris. The collection was impressive, filled with memorabilia highlighting the stories of players and teams. In the middle of the room stood the ultimate prize, the trophy. As I went to take a photo of it, I noticed a young girl standing in the distance. She was glued to the television, fixated on the highlight reels of players like Homare Sawa and Hope Solo. Next to her, the jerseys of the 24 teams competing here. I wondered what she was thinking, dreaming. Who knows, maybe some day she’ll be wearing one, fighting for the chance to lift that trophy. #FIFAWWC #HyundaiTruePassion

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10 matches in, and the novelty hasn’t worn off. One of my favourite things about the World Cup is that I get to see certain teams live for the first time. Sweden and Canada both fall into this category. So while I’m sitting there watching the likes of Sinclair, Seger, Fischer and Lindahl, it dawns on me that this might be my only opportunity to see them play in person. As each knockout game draws to a close, I realise that for some, the World Cup dream is over for good. It’s hard to capture. On the other hand, it’s exciting knowing that players like Fleming, Buchanan, and Lawrence will be around for years to come. It doesn’t make the result any easier to swallow - not at all - but they’ll be back. That’s for sure. #FIFAWWC #SWECAN

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Shattered. So many highs and lows in just a few hours. As a photographer, I dread the idea of having to capture the heartbreak of the team that means so much to me. I can say without a doubt that last night was the hardest shoot I’ve ever experienced. So much so that I couldn’t even bear to look at the photos afterwards. It’s the first time I haven’t edited a Matildas gallery straight after the match. It seemed too raw, too hard. And so, running on 2 hours sleep on a 6am train to Paris, I finally opened my computer. Everyone in the carriage was asleep around me, as I fought back tears, reliving last night all over again. But I know how important these photos are. Not just to me. I know they’ll serve as motivation. Maybe even inspiration. This team certainly inspires me. Whatever’s next for them, I’ll be there, by the white line, as always. #WeAreMatildas #FIFAWWC

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Today’s the day, but you’ve been here before. I know you’re ready for the challenge, in fact, I know you can’t wait to be at the stadium already. Neither can I. It was an honour to shoot your team photo yesterday, and I’m not sure I can quite put into words what it means to me. It might take some time for that to sink in. Endlessly proud of what you’ve achieved so far, and always excited to see what’s next. #GoMatildas

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And just like that, the group stage is done for me behind the lens. 8 matches in 2 weeks, and boy have I seen some good football. After a 10 hour trip from Grenoble to Nice yesterday (thanks to a train delay), we finally arrived at Allianz Riviera to see England and Japan battle it out for top spot in group D. The Lionesses too strong for Nadeshiko, with an Ellen White brace ensuring 3 wins from 3. Now the focus turns to the knockouts - it’s do or die and I can’t wait to capture it. #FIFAWWC #JPNENG

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Last night was full of special moments. Sam’s goal haul, Lisa’s 150th cap, Aivi’s World Cup debut, Karly’s first start, Jamaica’s first goal... I could go on. I was nervous before the game. Really nervous. Not as a photographer necessarily, more as an emotionally invested fan. Things didn’t start well, with one of my lenses deciding it didn’t need its screws. Once that issue was sorted, the only tough part was waiting to see how the match unfolded. If you’d been next to me, you would’ve seen me fidgeting, restless as ever. They got the job done, of course they did. A short while after the final whistle, Sam starting heading towards my end, holding a ball. “What’s she up to?” “Is she going to give the ball away?” “Is she coming towards me?” “Shit, do I have a memory card in my camera?” ...and then she was directly in front of me. “Hey Rach, can you please take a photo of me?” She stood there smiling for a second, and I made her wait so that I could check the photo was a good one. “Come on,” she laughed. “It’ll be worth it,” I replied. And it was. What an honour. #GoMatildas #FIFAWWC #JAMAUS

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Onto the next one 💪🏻 #GoMatildas

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What a night. I’ve always dreamed of going to a World Cup, never mind shooting at one. Les Bleues shone in front of over 45,000 in Paris. For me, there was one standout: Amandine Henry. Simply dominant. I’ll never forget how loud the chants of her name were after she scored. “Amandine” *slight pause* “Henry!” Thunderous. And after the final whistle, the celebrations ensued. The connection between the fans and this team clear as day. I’m not sure if I’ll experience anything quite like it again. #FIFAWWC #FRAKOR

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@samanthakerr20 I’ve encountered few people in my lifetime that are as passionate as you. It extends far beyond the pitch, too. Coupled perfectly with that passion is your sense of fun. When we shoot together, you certainly keep me on my toes. There have been many occasions where I’ve been trying to capture a candid moment, and you’ve stared straight into my lens and done something hilarious. You always manage to surprise me. Working with you this past little while has been rewarding, to say the least. So as we head into the World Cup, I’m excited to see what you have in store for us next. What I do know is that you’ll be focusing on how you can best help your team, as always. It’s never just about you. You’re constantly striving for the best for those around you. And that’s what makes you such a great leader.

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@elliecarpenterr You challenged me from the beginning of this project to think differently, and to think big as a photographer - whether you knew it or not. I’m so thankful for that. Over the past 5 months, I’ve learned a lot about you. How resilient you are, how lively, how amusing. The day after the W-League grand final I drove up to your family home on the Central Coast. I’d heard you speak before about the sacrifices your mum had made for you. When we walked through the door, she was even more welcoming than I’d imagined. It was so clear to me how important you are to her, but what really stood out to me was seeing how much she means to you. Your appreciation was palpable. You’re about to go to your first World Cup, and I’m sure you see it as much a reward for her as it is for yourself. You’ve achieved so much already, but this is the pinnacle of the game. I’m sure you’re ready for it, in fact, I’m sure you can’t wait. Neither can I. Thank you for being so open towards me throughout this entire project. Without that, we couldn’t have shared your story. And this is only the beginning.

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@caitlinfoord 5 months ago we sat in a hotel lobby in Brisbane, meeting for the first time. We didn’t really know what we were in for, did we? I was pretty nervous, to say the least. The next day, you stuck your tongue out at me during your warm up. It put me at ease straight away. To make things even better, you scored a brace. Since then, I’ve followed your journey across 4 countries, documenting your life as an athlete. Along the way, you’ve helped me fulfil photography goals I only dreamed of. But getting to know you as a person, not just as a footballer, has been the most satisfying part. You’re down to earth, generous and hilarious. I’ve seen first-hand how much you care about your family and friends, and vice-versa. It’s been an honour shooting for and with you. Our time is up for now, but your journey certainly isn’t finished. I know how hard you’ve worked to get to France, and I’m excited to see what you and your fearlessness will do when you step onto the pitch. Whilst our project is done, rest assured I’ll be pitch side, snapping (stalking?) as always. I’d planned to be in France before we met, and now I have even more reasons to look forward to it. And if you’re nervous at any point, maybe, just maybe, I’ll stick my tongue out at you. After all, only good things can come from that. Right? 🤪

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I’m not really sure how to describe last night. Bittersweet, perhaps. As an Australian, it was a tough one, but as an avid supporter of women’s football, it was one of the best. I walked to the game, surrounded by a sea of orange. 30,640 people, to be exact (I saw 2 Aussie fans!). I arrived at the ground as the Dutch team bus was pulling up. Fans were literally sprinting over to greet them, and many stayed when the Matildas’ bus arrived shortly after. The supporters standing next to me must’ve sensed my awe, asking “this doesn’t happen in Australia?” Inside the stadium, the noise was thunderous. Oranje were buoyed by the record crowd. As I sat pitch side, I tried to soak up the atmosphere. It was incredible, and to think, this is just the warm up. In 5 days, I’ll be at Parc de Princes, at the opening game of the World Cup. I finally feel ready. #NEDAUD #GoMatildas #FIFAWWC

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Not our night, but now it’s time for the big one 🌏🏆 #WeAreMatildas

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Media night with the Matildas 🎤 Took some snaps, but the highlight of the night for me was getting to hear @eeshferguson talk to the players. Dare I say one chat in particular almost had us all in tears. The way Eesh connects with the players is pretty amazing. She’s able to turn what might seem like a daunting interview into a comfortable chat. She’s been in their shoes, and she uses that experience oh so well. Thanks for letting me be a fly on the wall 🙈 #WeAreMatildas

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“Infectious.” That was how Ante described the players in an interview the other day. He’s right; such a compelling group. Turkey has been fantastic - what a setting to prepare for France. Now it’s time to head to the Netherlands, where the journey continues. #FIFAWWC

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Never a dull moment... plenty of laughs, entertainment and even a dance routine behind the scenes today. #BTS #GoMatildas

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One location, two players, once a day, no frills. I ditch the larger camera in favour of a smaller one - one that I can’t hide behind. It’s out of character for me, but I want to be present. We sit, only metres apart, chatting away. So engaging are these women, I often end up putting the camera down, engrossed in conversation. Such a diverse group of people, the perfect role models. It’s no wonder you’ve all embraced them with such passion. #GoMatildas

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Day 🖐🏼 #GoMatildas

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Steph Catley has a reputation. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Not in this case; it’s a reputation for being one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. So well respected by her peers and coaches, and adored by fans. She’s modest, and as hard working as they come. Whether it’s a smile, wave, hello, or all three (as it often is), Steph has a way of making you feel at ease. It doesn’t take much, and yesterday was no different. We commandeered a staircase, much to the horror of the woman trying to sweep it. “5 minutes, we’ll be quick,” and the majority of that time was spent laughing. Eventually the woman stood atop the stairs, willing us to move, and so she unwittingly become part of the snaps. So relaxed was Steph that we rolled with it, no fuss at all. All we could do was laugh about it, and so that’s exactly what we did. #GoMatildas

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Day four in camp and the hard work continues. High tempo, competitiveness aplenty, and then sprints at the end of the session. The players pull each other through it, and what a sight that is. Cheers, clapping, yelling. Whatever it takes. #GoMatildas

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In January 2018, I was sitting on the sideline at AAMI Park, waiting for a W-League match to begin. Amy Harrison passed by, and I snapped a quick photo. She wasn’t in her kit; instead she wore a blue top and dress pants. Not a single hair out of place. She was on crutches. Amy had torn her second ACL just weeks earlier. She was only 21. I tried to be discreet, not wanting to disturb her. Later, I sent Amy the photo, and wished her well on her recovery. If you’ve ever spoken to her, you’ll know how genuine she is. She responded promptly, gracious as ever. I was thrilled to hear her recovery was going well. I then told her I’d have my cameras ready for France 2019. That was 17 months ago. And now here she is, only weeks away from her first World Cup. We sat in the grass yesterday chatting and laughing away. It was hard to wipe the smile off her face. She’s right where she belongs. Resilience personified. #GoMatildas

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Fresh faces, focus and feet 🔥 #DayTwo

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First session in Turkey, 23 degrees, feels like 30... and still they make it look so easy. 🔥

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The road to France 📸 Our story begins in June 2016. I drove down the Western Freeway to photograph you in Ballarat. I’d never been to one of your matches in person before. I was hooked, instantly. I wanted to know when and how I could do that again. I wouldn’t get that chance until September 2017. I booked a flight to Sydney, and bought a ticket to your game in case I didn’t get accredited. I’ll never forget that afternoon in Penrith. A sellout. On home soil. Then in November, you came back to Victoria. Some of you said hello at games, others over social media. I was starting to feel more comfortable around you. At the beginning of 2018, I started planning a trip to the Asian Cup. I applied for media accreditation, and then booked a flight to Jordan. “You’re using annual leave and paying to go?” “Pretty much.” Once there, I captured your highs and lows. I left that tournament feeling obligated to give more to women’s football, somehow. In November, I flew myself to Sydney again. A disappointing day on the field, but you spent an eternity after the match with your fans, friends and families. I loved capturing that, I always do. Then you announced the Cup of Nations for early 2019. I didn’t think I’d be able to travel, but there was a game in Melbourne, so I’d see you then. And then everything changed. I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime. I quit my job. Since then, I’ve been focusing on photography full time. I travelled around the country to capture the Cup of Nations, which you deservedly won. Last month I flew to America to see you again. You welcomed me into camp with open arms. I was nervous, as always, but working with you is always so enjoyable. After all this time, my passion hasn’t diminished. You’ve made sure of that. I’ve been following your journey for most of this cycle, and it’s been beyond fulfilling. You’re inspiring, strong and committed. You’ve worked so hard in the lead up to France, and I know that’s going to pay off. After all, you’re @thematildas. See you soon! 🇹🇷🇳🇱🇫🇷

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Last night was my last game in Australia for a little while, but how fitting that it’s Female Football Week. A time to acknowledge the important role women play in developing football, and to promote, to celebrate. A fiery battle between South and Calder, as always. Calder too strong on this occasion, putting four past the keeper. Challenges from every angle, bodies flew into tackles, crashed into each other. Though perhaps the most notable part of the night happened behind the fence. Young girls lined the fence, laughter aplenty. Confetti shot into the sky, as they reached for the coloured shapes. Debating pronunciations of players’ names, before loudly chanting and cheering. We see how our Matildas inspire girls around the country, so how wonderful it is to see women doing exactly that locally each week. #FFWVic #NPLWVIC

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One month until it all begins ⏰ Can’t wait to shoot this team (and these kits!) again, and see what they do on the biggest stage. #GoMatildas #WWC2019

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When I arrived in Chicago last week, I was unsure what to expect. As I sit here, about to fly home, I’m thankful more than anything. It’s daunting having a camera in your face, that I’m sure of. Yet for the past week, you both welcomed me into your lives with open arms. There was no filter, no holding back. Instead, you trusted me, letting me run free with my creative vision. Shooting with you this week has been endlessly fulfilling. We definitely dealt with the unexpected - there was the constantly changing weather, and who could forget almost running out of petrol on the way to one of the craziest games I’ve ever shot. You made sure I was well taken care of, regardless of what was thrown at us. It was also amazing to see how the @chicagoredstars operate day to day. Thank you for introducing me to the legends that are Justyne, Anna and Joe. You’re in such great hands there. So as I head home, I can say with absolute certainty that this week has been one of the best. Nikki, I’m sure you’ll be a fully fledged creative director by the next time we meet. You’ve got the eye for it! Sam, it won’t be quite as long until I see you next… You’ll be in the green and gold, leading your country - and boy, do you deserve that honour. Thank you both for all the laughs, good chats, feeds… and most of all, for being so open around me. The way you support each other, as well as those with whom you surround yourselves, is simply wonderful. Let’s do this again soon ✌🏼

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“You ready?” She doesn’t always give me a heads up, but when Sam does, you can tell by that smirk that she’s going to make you laugh. She looks both ways, and then darts out quickly. It’s over in less than 10 seconds. The parallels between this moment and shooting her play are clear to me. Things happen so quickly. Blink, and you’ll miss it. Expect the unexpected, and you’ll be rewarded.

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Chaos. There’s just no other way to describe it. 8 goals. Unbridled joy. Tackles flying in from every angle. Tempers flaring. Battles galore. What a game. #CHIvPOR #NWSL

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Pixel perfect 🎨

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There’s nothing like a home cooked meal when you’ve been away for weeks. Chefs Sam and Nikki didn’t disappoint. A night of tacos, football, a few snaps, and chats of all kinds. Can’t forget the pup, of course - the 10th they’ve fostered. So when I get asked what it’s like being around athletes, my answer is pretty simple. They’re just people. I’m just lucky that they’re some of the best ones.

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Up close and personal 🎬

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NWSL ✔️ I’m used to waking up early on a Sunday morning back home to stream @nwsl. A league so entertaining, and so full of talent. But watching a stream from 10,000 miles away can’t even begin to compare with the live experience. I shouldn’t be surprised, but here I am, expectations exceeded. That was wild. Can’t wait for the next one. #ORLvPOR #NWSL

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🌹 x ✔️

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04.04.2019 ⚽️

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To: @thematildas 
It’s time to say bye for now, but what a week it’s been. Thank you for welcoming me into camp, so that I could help cover another part of your journey to France. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, and so I felt both apprehensive and excited. I’ve been following you for a little while now, but wearing the team photographer bib on Thursday night was one of the highlights of my career. Thank you for trusting me to capture the special moments for you. Whilst I know you are disappointed with Thursday’s result, I also know you’ll fight back. It’s been wonderful to watch you this week; your energy is infectious. All the little waves, hellos and smiles drive me even further. I shoot for you, not for me. I can’t wait until the next time. 👋🏻 #GoMatildas

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Wow. Where do I even start? What a significant night. Goals galore, new kits, a 💯 milestone, a new name, and one intense battle between some of the best in the world. And how about that crowd? I have never heard anything like it at a football match. At one point, the small contingent of Aussie fans could be heard chanting “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi.” Not to be outdone on home soil, the Americans responded with a “USA, USA, USA” chant so loud it sent chills up my spine. What I experienced last night is still sinking in, and it might take a little while yet. Whilst the result of the game might not have been what I was hoping for, it was definitely one of the most fulfilling shoots of my life. 
#GoMatildas #USAvAUS #USWNT

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I’ve often heard the Matildas talk about how much they enjoy playing against the USA. The combination of the big crowd, and the challenge of taking on a football powerhouse, is certainly appealing. I’ve always wanted to shoot this match up, and I’ve always wanted to experience the atmosphere at a game on American soil. As I was walking into the stadium today, it all started to hit me - I’m about to do both of those things. I’m excited for the game, for the players, and to capture them taking on the best. Ante’s advice to me today was to keep living the dream. I think I’ll do just that. I can’t wait for tomorrow. #GoMatildas

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Just brew it ☕️