American football star Kristen Hamilton believes her time with the Western Sydney Wanderers in the Westfield W-League this season has helped her develop as a player and a person.
Having never played football outside of her homeland, the 27-year-old attacker didn’t know what to expect when she arrived at the door step of the Red & Black back in November as one of the cub’s high profile overseas signings.
It didn’t take long for Hamilton to make an impact in the W-League has she put away five goals in the Wanderers opening seven games of the season as the team made giant strides in the national competition.
Despite a dip in results of late, it has done nothing to dim Hamilton’s enthusiasm and enjoyment of playing with the Wanderers.
“It has been awesome being in Australia and I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Hamilton.
“In terms of organisation, everything is very professional ... we get such great facilities (at the Wanderers) in the middle of summer.
“It’s definitely a challenge, personally, in terms of the different role I normally play with North Carolina (in the NWSL). I am developing myself with more of a leadership and role model role as opposed to North Carolina, where I am almost in the background a little more so.
“I do enjoy it as it’s another way to grow on and off the field. It’s been fun, a cool challenge and something I have embraced.”
Hamilton, who has been with North Carolina Courage for four seasons and is on loan to the Wanderers, said the W-League compares favourably with the NWSL.
“It is fairly similar in terms of structure and quality-wise,” said Hamilton.
“At any point, any team can beat anyone and that is the most exciting thing about this league and the NWSL. The competitiveness is fairly high.”
Hamilton said her first experience of playing football outside of the US has given her a better perspective and a taste for more.
“It has helped develop me as a person and player. It’s exciting to be able to see a new country and I can’t really complain about being paid to live in Australia in the summer,” said Hamilton.
“Many people would die to be in this position, to see the world through soccer is pretty incredible.
“Having said that, going from one competition to the next without a break, there is a burn out issue. I know Sam Kerr has done it for the past four years and has been so successful.
“But, it can take a toll on your mind and body. That is the hard part because I want to be on the go all the time.”
As for the Wanderers season, Hamilton acknowledged it has been one of ups and downs.
The Wanderers, who are chasing a first-time appearance in the playoffs, started in a blaze of glory going unbeaten in their opening six games. However, they have managed just one win from their past four.
“That is natural in football, the ebbs, and flows of the game,” said Hamilton.
“Sometimes you are in great form, sometimes in poor form and it is just about riding those kinds of times out.
“Losing key players like our captain Erica (Halloway) and Abby (Smith) hasn’t helped either.
“Hopefully, what we did in our great times will propel us to get us through the hard times and hopefully rediscover that great form again.”