NY Lady Pie players Christina Licata, Drea Casillas , Siobhan McHale and Monica Robbins were recently selected to the USA Freedom team, which will play in the inaugural 2011 AFL International Cup in Australia later this year. Â Six women’s teams from the USA, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Italy, Ireland and an Australian Indigenous team will take the field.
The 2011 USA Freedom team has “plenty of new athletes” according to Drea Casillas. Â However, she was quick to point out that although this may equate to a relatively inexperienced team, “there is a hunger that was not there in the first tour”.
The Lady Pies contingent of the USA Freedom team will provide some much needed experience to a team consisting of athletes from throughout the USA. Â All four girls have been selected for the Freedom on previous tours of Australia and Canada. Â The motivation to play at the highest calibre is especially important for Chistina Licata. Â A serious knee injury just before the Lady Pies first ever tour to Australia ended the star onballers tournament before it even started.Â As a testament to her love of the game and dedication to the Freedom, Christina travelled with the team as a manager. Â Watch out for the one affectionately known as “T” for a big tournament in Australia this time.
Although the standard of the other teams at the AFL International Cup is relatively unknown, repeat Lady Pie MVP winner Monica Robbins is especially focused on nearby rivals Canada. Â A 2010 tour to Canada showed Robbins that “they have proven to be tough competition in the past so we look forward to a hard fought competition with them.” Licata on the other hand believes Ireland – both on and off the field – will be the toughest competition.
The NY Magpies will be supporting the USA Freedom from afar.Â It is an honor to have so many Lady Pie representatives in the national team – especially since the Lady Pies were formed only three years ago.Â If you happen to be in Melbourne from August 15-27 get along and support the girls.
Below are the responses to questions posed by nyfooty.com to the representatives of the Freedom team.
What are you most looking forward to about the tournament?
MR: I look forward to a high standard of play as well as meeting some of the international players to hear about how they have grown womenâ€™s footy in their home countries.
AC: It’s amazing to see how far women’s footy has developed in the U.S. and even more impressive that there are other leagues across the world with the same dedication. I am excited to be apart of this growth domestically as well as world wide.
CL: Meeting women from all over the world that have the same passion for footy as us.Â And of course going to Australia again!Â See you soon Jimmy and Erin!
What do you hope to achieve as a team and as an individual?
MR: Ideally I would hope to show the international football community that the US ladies are a force to be reckoned with and are continuing to push the sport forward locally.
AC: As a team, I believe we can compete with the other teams.Â During our first tour we viewed it very much as a learning experience.Â This time we are out to establish US footy as a force in women’s Aussie football.Â I hope that we can get our first international win and show the rest of the world what a group of Yankees can do.Â Individually, the goal always remains the same: to grow as a player and establish myself on and off the pitch.
CL: I hope that the US Freedom is able to play well as a team.Â We have a lot of talented individuals on the squad, but the fact that we have not played as a team through the course of the year before traveling to Australia will be a challenge.Â As an individual, I would like to play the highest caliber of footy that I know how to play and inspire my team to push themselves to play hard.
What is the position you think you will be playing?
MR: No idea 🙂
AC: Somewhere in the forward or defensive lines… but I’ll play anywhere!
CL: I think I’ll be on ball or on the half forward line.
Who do you think your biggest competition will be?
MR: As this will be the first time we play most of these teams, I can only speak to the level of play of the Canadian team. They have proven to be tough competition in the past so we look forward to a hard fought competition with them.
AC: I’ve heard impressive reports about the Italian team, but I expect the Irish and PNG teams to be extremely talented. At this point, I consider all participating teams to be my biggest competitor.
CL: Ireland, both on and off the field.
Who do you think the other teams should look out for from the USA Freedom?
MR: Other teams would be best served to keep an eye out for all of the US Freedom players… especially the Lady Pies!
AC: There are plenty of new athletes selected for the 2011 team. While normally this might equate with inexperience, there is a hunger that was not there in the first tour.Â I believe the Lady Magpies will represent once again showing the world that the NY girls are not to be messed with!
CL: Monica Robbins always seems to be at the ball.Â Andrea Casillas sneaks up from no where.Â Siobhan McHale is like a machine, she never stops running.Â Judith Stein is a great marker and uses her body to get the footy and kick goals.Â Courtney Church, though short like me, is a force to be reckoned with on the ball.Â Marie LaVictoire, a talented defensive player.
Do you have any final thoughts?
MR: It is truly an honor to have been selected to the USA Freedom team and be able to compete on an international level in a sport that I love.
AC: This is the first time that women’s teams have ever been invited to the International Cup and each playerÂ is extremely proud to be representing their country on an international level.Â This will undoubted lead to competitive play.Â Donate to the Lady Pies and see to it that we all make it to Australia… 2011 IC or bust!
CL: I believe this is such a historical event for footy women all over the world.Â Hopefully this will be a catalyst for the growth of the sport for women to a further extent.Â I am honored to represent the USA in Australia this summer.Â You better heed ’em when you see ’em!Â Â Donate to the Lady Pies and help us get to Australia!!