When it comes to accomplishing and accumulating titles, few do it better than Brisbane’s own Clare Polkinghorne.
Not only is she the Captain (and newly promoted assistant coach) of the Brisbane Roar Women’s team with two Premierships and two Championships under her belt, she is also an Olympian, Westfield Matildas defender, four-time World Cup representative, Logan’s Sportswoman of the Year for 2019, Brisbane Roar’s W-League Player of the Year for 2019, and W-League Player of the Year for 2018 and 2013…
The impressive list is in no way conclusive, and it falls in stark contrast to her humble and grounded character that just so happens to perfectly typify what Brisbane is - modest and understated to the naked eye yet something all-together brilliant for those that really know it and are amongst it.
Growing up on Brisbane’s southside in Carindale, Clare started playing football (of the spherical and legitimate kind) when she was just five years old, joining a boys’ team after watching her brother play. Fast-forward quarter of a century, Clare is now in her twelfth season donning the signature orange jersey of the Brisbane Roar and she couldn’t be happier.
“To be playing at a senior level for the Brisbane Roar is something I am really proud of. I love representing the city and I love representing the club. Everyone is here for the love of the game - they love playing football and they love to win, and I think that drive to be better has really been instilled in the club.”
Given her ambition and drive to win matches, it comes as no surprise to learn that one of her career highlights is winning two W-League Premierships in Brisbane Roar colours.
“Winning a premiership is a hard feeling to explain and you can’t replicate that in day-to-day life. It’s something that you, as a team and individually, have been working towards all season, and to achieve something together is really special.”
Despite her success, Clare is more determined than ever to achieve results for her hometown.
“You play football to be there at the pointy end of the season and to lift trophies, and I’ve been lucky enough to be part of two of those. Hopefully we can make it three this season – I know all the girls are working hard towards that.”
With Head Coach Jake Goodship at the helm, Clare will tackle the challenge of being a player-coach in an official capacity for the first time in the 2019/20 season. But don’t expect her to change her leadership style for the occasion. She has every intention of remaining true to herself and leading from the front by preparing as best she can.
“As a leader, I’m not as vocal as some other people, I like to lead by my actions.
“In any team sport you can’t win anything by yourself, it’s the people around you that help you achieve what you want to achieve. It’s important in a team sport that you’ve got that good team culture and that bond amongst the group.”
When you watch her in action or listen to her speak, you realise there is a lot to love about Clare Polkinghorne. Beyond being an exceptionally accomplished footballer, she possesses a fiercely parochial spirit and an unwavering sense of gratitude that sees her eager to give back to her city and to the sport that has given her so much.
“There’s a lot that comes with being a professional footballer, not just training and playing. It’s about meeting your supporters, meeting your community, and getting amongst the things that are happening in the community.
“Inspiring that next generation to want to start playing football or continue playing football, and just to be a positive role model for the younger players coming through or someone who is a fan watching at home - that’s really important, and that’s a big part of what we like to do here at Roar.”
And they do it well. After all, they have inspired the formation of an active supporter group that has lofty ambitions of being the biggest W-League fan club in Australia. The Roar Corps has gained considerable momentum since its inception in 2017, and much like the Tifosi for Scuderia Ferrari, they bring a sea of colour, chants, flags and drums that add an exhilarating atmosphere that is hard to beat.
“I’ve always said we’ve got the best fans in the league, and the amount of effort and time that they spend preparing for games, making banners, travelling - it’s pretty cool to have that.
“We see our travelling supporters at the airport, they fly on the same planes as us, it’s just a really cool thing that they can be so close. They’re sort of an extension of our team which is awesome.”
Given how often the Brisbane Roar Women’s team travel, they are more or less part of the fittings at Brisbane Airport, travelling interstate every second week for away games throughout the season. Clare says it makes perfect sense that Brisbane Airport is the principle partner of the team.
“Brisbane Airport has been a supporter and a sponsor of our club for a number of years, and it definitely means a lot for our club.
“We obviously couldn’t travel to our away games if it wasn’t for Brisbane Airport, and the relationship just makes sense. It’s really good to have their support, not only for us but also for our fans to be able to come and support us.”