AUSTRALIAN soccer star Clare Polkinghorne returned to her home ground with a visit to the Capalaba Bulldogs Football Club.
The Brisbane Roar and Matildas captain, who was once a junior Bulldogs player, visited the club to speak with its young female players.
Capalaba FC president Jason Ganter said Polkinghorne's visit had a significant impact on the club's young players.
"When the girls realised who she was, they became a little starstruck and hung off every word Clare had to say," Mr Ganter said.
Fourteen-year-old club player Ava said meeting Polkinghorne had inspired her to work harder towards her dream.
"(Polkinghorne showed) me that if you work hard have a good attitude you can pursue your dream," Ava said.
“I took away knowledge of what it is like to play for Australia and to know the importance of working as a team."
Kathryn Tibbles, who played in Polkinghorne's team during her time with the Bulldogs, said Polkinghorne's rise to success was no surprise to her teammates.
“Even at that early age she was clearly a step above everyone else, and a natural leader of the team," Ms Tibbles said.
Polkinghorne was the first woman to play 100 matches in the women’s league, and celebrated 10 years with the Brisbane Roar this year.
Polkinghorne said her time with the Bulldogs had laid the foundations for her successful career.
“It all started playing out here and working hard to reach my goals,” she said.
“You slowly progress through the stages and you end up playing at Olympics and World Cups.
“Now I get the opportunity to represent my country and travel the world.”
Polkinghorne said her success was a testament to the importance of grassroots football.
“If you enjoy what you do and you want to work hard and you want to improve, anything is possible,” she said.
The visit came the week before Play Football Round, which was celebrated from February 7 to 10 and encouraged junior players to participate and register in the 2019 grassroots season.
Polkinghorne led the Roar in a match against Sydney FC in the Westfield W-League semi-final on Sunday, February 10.