She'll be leading out her nation at the 2019 World Cup this summer, but right now Sam Kerr is sitting in front of us after leading a powerful movement for women's football. Just moments earlier Kerr was standing on stage alongside 26 of her opponents as Nike launched their World Cup kits. On days like this, these girls are on the same team, a united force in pushing women's football forward. However, that'll be a very different story come the summer. 

Where Sam Kerr travels, goals follow. If she's firing on all cylinders in June then you can expect and hope that this stunning Matildas 2019 home shirt will be sticking around right to the very end. On the pitch Kerr is ruthless, determined and ultra-competitive; traits typical of a proud Australian. Off it the Aussie characteristics continue; she's chilled, calm, and articulately witty.

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Sam, when we spoke last you were beginning to think about the World Cup. Has this event made it more real?

Yeah it definitely has, especially being backstage and meeting all the girls, hearing what they’re up to. There’s a little bit of tension, with nobody giving much away! But it’s made it feel like this is the next big thing in women’s football. Although we’re all with clubs at the moment, this is the big prize and the excitement has definitely gone up a whole lot today.

The new Matildas home shirt is finally out, what do you think of it?

I love it. I’ve been so excited to share it with everyone. I’ve been seeing it for nearly a year now so it’s been hard for me to keep it in but I love it and I think it looks great and I think it represents our team well. The socks are pretty wild too. We’re a part of the Socceroo family, but we’re so different, we’re such a different team to the men's team so it’s really exciting to show our own vibe.

You’ve featured prominently in Nike campaigns. How important is the role that Nike are playing within women’s football?

I think Nike are doing a great job. It’s not only in football though. They’re obviously doing a really great job with football, but it’s women’s sport in general, and you saw tonight with all those amazing athletes out there from their respective sports, as well as the young kids who were involved. It’s not just about the athlete, it’s so much wider and broader than that. I thought that it was really powerful that they had other athletes from other sports there today, because it just shows that it’s girls as a whole, not just women’s football that Nike are representing, and yeah, it was epic out there. So powerful.

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You’ve recently been named Australia captain. What’s it going to be like leading out your country at the World Cup?

I can’t even think about it at the moment to be honest. I was saying it’s an honour to be captain before I actually played my first game with the armband and then when I walked out for the first time actually as captain and I didn’t really know how cool the experience would be I guess. It’s spine tingling, it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, so I’m really excited about doing it at the World Cup.

What sort of captain would your teammates describe you as, or how would you describe yourself as a captain?

Hopefully my teammates see me as someone that leads on the field and that leads with my actions.

You seem pretty chilled; not one to lose your head… 

I always just try to be real and be myself and down to earth and hopefully everyone feels that they can come up to me. I’m not going to be the captain that’s going to change, I’m going to be myself and that’s just being approachable, and leading by actions is the most important thing for me, I’m all about that.

The Matildas have reached the quarter-finals in the last three World Cups. What would it mean to get through that barrier?

Yeah, that’s obviously the goal, to get through that barrier, but at the moment it’s honestly just worry about the groups and then we can go from there because it’s hard to get out of the groups. Women's football has changed so much that there’s no easy games any more, so it’d be a dream to go to the semis, go to the final, but we’ve got to get there first. Gotta get through the group and the round of 16.

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What’s the mood like in the camp, are you quietly confident? No one’s going to fancy playing you…

Previously I think we’ve always been the dark horse, but we’ve gone past that now. You’ve got people that are putting their money on us to win it. We’re feeling really confident. I think when Ante [Milicic] came in as head coach we were all a bit nervous, but he’s been great and he’s given us more belief and he’s taken our game to another level so yeah, we’re really excited about it. Everyone’s really really looking forward to it. I guess you could call it quietly confident. We know what we’re capable of.

Back in 2015 there was that really late defeat to Japan. What were the changing rooms like after that game?

Yeah, pure devastation. I can’t really get that game out of my head. It was just one of those goals, one of those games that you just re-play over and over because it hurt that much. Hopefully we don’t have a repeat of that. We’ve changed so much in four years that I don’t think it will happen like that again.

That’s the thing with the World Cup, a split second can change everything. You’re so close to glory but at the same time so close to heartbreak. Does it feel like that when you’re playing?

Yeah it does, and I think that’s what makes the World Cup so intense, it’s that everything is do or die and everything is on the line in every game, in every minute. It’s a really high pressured tournament and every game is equally as tense, but that’s what makes it the World Cup and that’s what makes it so special.

At the Olympics you lost to Brazil who were the host nation. That was another heartache moment. You’ve been through a lot together… this group must be tough?

Yeah we are. We’ve had losses together, but we’ve had a lot of wins together too and we’ve also grown up together. We’ve had worse things happen to us as a team and individually and we’ve supported our teammates and that’s what makes us really strong as a team; we’ve gone through life together and dealt with the ups and downs of life, so I think football makes us strong as a team, but if we told some of the stories of stuff that’s happened to us as a team, people could understand our team a little more. We’re strong.

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How much have you changed since you were approaching that World Cup in 2015. What’s that experience been like compared to this one?

I’ve changed heaps. I feel like when I was going to the World Cup in 2015 I thought I was so mature and at the top of my game and now I’m like “you’re and idiot!” I feel like I’ve changed, I’ve matured, I’ve grown up. I’m fitter, hopefully I’m faster, but you just kind of think when you’re young that you’re unstoppable and I guess my mind-set has changed and that’s the biggest thing.

Women’s football is in such a good place right now. When you speak to ex-players, are they a little envious of the fact that this generation are getting the recognition that the sport deserves?

I think most of them are happy for us. I’m sure there’s a part of them that would have loved to have what we have in terms of coverage, facilities, and progression, but everyone has played their part in where women’s football is right now, and this generation is doing the same for the next generation. Our older girls love seeing the Matildas doing well and they totally back us all the way.

View the full Nike WWC 2019 Paris Innovation Event here.