Satchell defends Sydney FC move despite struggle for game time

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Paige Satchell knew about the intense competition for a starting position at Sydney FC long before she signed, and says the move is improving her game and helping her keep her spot in the Kiwi national team.

The New Zealand forward joined three-time A-League Women’s champions Sydney FC in August last year, days after returning from Tokyo as a member of New Zealand’s squad for the delayed 2020 Olympics. Her signing followed a year stint with Canberra United in which she helped the side make the semi-finals for the first time since 2017.

Joined by Chilean veteran Maria Rojas at Sydney shortly after her arrival, Satchell entered a forward line consisting of Princess Ibini, Cortnee Vine and Remy Siemsen. Meaning she would have to stake her claim for a starting position against four other players, all with considerable international experience.

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The 23-year-old, however, said that she knew of the impending situation upon signing with the Sky Blues.

“We do have a lot of amazing forwards this season,” she said.

“But I did know that coming into the club, so I was kind of prepared to fight for my position.”

When the 2021/22 ALW season eventually rolled around at the beginning of December, head coach Ante Juric revealed his preference for the Australian attacking trio. Leaving both Satchell and Rojas to start their first six matches on the bench, despite their combined 15 years of international experience.

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The New Zealand forward said that whilst that period of time was challenging, it was also integral to her professional growth.

“I think it was difficult,” she said.

“You obviously enjoy it a lot more when you are playing for longer, but when you think long-term – even when I started out this season not getting heaps of game time – I think that I was still developing as a player just through pushing myself so hard at training.

“I was getting better with my touches on the ball and even just building my confidence as well.”

But in early January, an opportunity for Satchell to start for Sydney finally presented itself, when Vine and Siemsen were called up to the Matildas squad for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India.

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In just her second game in the Sky Blues starting 11, the attacker found the back of the net with a tidy finish over the head of Melbourne City goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri, taking the lead in an eventual 3-0 victory.

“I’m so glad that I was able to come on and make that kind of impact against Melbourne City,” she said.

“That was a really tough game for us, so to open the goals in that game was very exciting.

“I think it was good for me to get that trust from the team as well, that I can kind of step in and take that roll into my stride.”

Satchell has continued to terrorise defenders over the past three weeks with her pace and ball distribution, assuming a ‘game changing’ role similar to her teammate Vine.

“I think that over the years my X-factor has been my speed and my dribbling,” she said.

“I really enjoy to take players on one-on-one. But in a way, I guess I do have a similar style to Cortnee where we both use our speed to our advantage.”

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With the Matildas’ duo Vine and Siemsen set to return to the Sky Blues camp in a matter of days, Satchell was left uncertain of her fate for the remainder of the season.

Despite the competitive situation between the players, Satchell insists that there were no hard feelings between her and her teammates.

“It is difficult that we’re both kind of vying for the same spot, but she’s been super lovely this whole time,” she said of Vine.

“I think the whole forward line has actually been really supportive, even though it can be difficult at times when you’re competing for the same position.”

As the 2021/22 season draws closer towards the finals, Satchell has her sights set firmly on international football, off the back of her second career goal for the Football Ferns in a 2-0 friendly win against South Korea late last year.

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Having already played in the German top flight with SC Sand, Satchell insists that she made the right decision to remain in Australia.

“It’s always in the back of my mind, where I need to be to continue pushing myself to be ready to play on that international stage as well. So I knew that Sydney would be a good foundation for that,” she said.

“I knew I wanted to stay in the A-League Women. I had played in Germany for a season before I came to here, but I really enjoyed my time at Canberra last season so I knew I wanted play here again.

“But I’m looking forward to finishing the rest of the season out and hopefully we can win it all.”

Feature Image Credit: Jaime Castaneda

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Jimmy Alexander
Jimmy Alexander
Covering Sydney FC for the 2021/22 A-League season. Studying a Bachelor of Sports Media (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University.

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