Matildas goalkeeper Williams struck by women's ACL curse

Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams is returning to Australia from the United States after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.

It will be the second knee construction for elite footballer who was playing for the Western New York Flash in the NWSL when disaster struck.

The shot-stopper is now focused on being fit for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada next June and will return to Adelaide for surgery before starting rehab in Canberra.

The ACL curse continues to plague the women’s game, prompting Football Federation Australia to implement a preventative program.

“As soon as I did it I knew I had injured my ACL and it was pretty devastating," the 26-year-old said.

"I knew the feeling and I was pretty sure that I had done it again and immediately started thinking about how I could get back onto the field in time for the World Cup.

“Because I’ve been through ACL rehabilitation previously, the one advantage I have is that mentally I know what’s ahead of me and I know what’s required to get back onto the field, which is now my focus.”

Williams, who also plays for Canberra United in the W-League, suffered the same injury in the same knee in 2012 while playing for Swedish club Pitea IF.

The preventative program for female football players follows research into the number of ACL injuries sustained across women’s sport.

“FFA has undertaken research into the prevalence of ACL injuries among elite female football players and the impact it is having on the players and development of the Matildas and women’s football,” said FFA Head of Medical Services, Jeff Steinweg

“Matildas physiotherapist Kate Beerworth has worked on identifying risk factors for ACL injuries and in particular for female athletes and identified preventative programs that have proven to be effective.

“Kate has developed a specific injury prevention program for warm up after reviewing existing successful ACL prevention programs around the world and held education seminars for coaches and trainers at the 2014 women’s NTC Championships.

“FFA has also developed standardised screening processes for all National Team and W-League players and is planning an on-line resource as part of a strategy to protect the players from future ACL injuries at all levels of the game.”

Matilda Leena Khamis is also currenly sidelined with an ACL injury.

Meanwhile FFA has announced the appointment of Emma Highwood as the Head of Women’s Football.

Highwood will also continue in her current role as FFA’s Head of Community Football and a member of the Senior Management Team.

FFA CEO David Gallop said combining the senior management responsibilities for women’s and community football was part of FFA’s strategic approach to game development and participation growth.

“The growth in women’s football at junior and senior levels has been one of the major drivers of participation in Australian football over the past decade and we want to maximise the potential,” Gallop said.

As part of the new structure, FFA will recruit a new Marketing Manager for Women’s Football while the process of appointing a new Head Coach of the Matildas is also underway.

“These are exciting times for women’s football and we have wonderful opportunities from the grassroots to the elite level,” Highwood said.

“Participation in women’s football is growing rapidly and we have incredible role models in the Westfield Matildas.

“The team’s success in Asia, next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup and the increasing profile of the Westfield W-League will help us tell the great story of women’s football in Australia.”