Pararoos skipper David Barber admits he’s motivated to play on “for a while yet” after brining up his 100th international cap in the win over Canada.
Barber, 40, became just the second Pararoo after teammate Chris Pyne – who confirmed his retirement following the match - to reach the magical century mark in the green and gold.
And what a way it was to celebrate the achievement as the Pararoos cruised to a 5-0 win in the team’s first match on home soil in almost 20 years.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and to finally make the milestone was something I’m very proud of,” Barber told Pararoos.com.au on Tuesday.
“To maintain the level required to be an international for that amount of time is very hard to do.
“The fact I have been able to do for so long is something I’m proud of in itself and then to make the 100 games is even more special.
“The weekend was extraordinary. The crowd was more than I could have hoped for. The noise they made, the atmosphere I created, it was everything that the guys deserved.
“We’ve got young guys who have never experienced anything like that before in their lives so for them to come out and see what it means to everyone else around them and for us to be able to give a little bit back to all the people that have been supporting us for so long, it means the world.”
Barber’s special presentation
More than 1100 fans were in the stands on Sydney’s northern beaches to watch the Pararoos in action, including Caltex Socceroos coach Graham Arnold and ex-Caltex Socceroo Brett Emerton.
In a huge highlight for Barber, he was presented with a commemorative ‘100 jersey’ by Arnold on the pitch after the match.
“Arnie was a player that I watched as a kid,” he explained.
“The only Socceroo jersey I own is the one he used to wear, the old ‘spew’ jersey.
“I love the heritage that comes with our game as well and genuinely appreciate the support those guys gave us on the day. It was very humbling.”
Future bright for Pararoos
Given the occasion and the expectation around the Pararoos’ first home match since 2000, Barber admitted there were plenty of pre-match butterflies as he strode out on to Cromer Park.
But once the side got into the match there was only going to be one winner.
The manner of the Pararoos’ performance and the amount of young talent in the squad has Barber as confident as ever in the future of the side.
“We’re going into a tournament [in Spain] in the middle of next year and to be quite frank our expectation is to win,” he declared.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve gone into a tournament and thought we’re a real shot of winning.
“This time around we’re up against nations that are all ranked around the same as us and we genuinely believe we’re an absolute chance [to win it].”
International day for people with a disability
It was fitting to chat with Barber today, with December 3 recognised around the world as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Asked what the day meant to him, Barber said: “It’s something I’m incredible grateful for.
“Having a disability is something that challenges every person in a different way. The fact that we can reach out to people across the country that have a disability, we can show them what can be achieved if you really push in.
“And the support we got in that game on Saturday shows people with a disability that they don’t have to feel segregated as part of society.
“People love what we do and they support any kind of sport, whether it’s disability or able-bodied. Australia is a community as a whole, where there’s no segregation. We all live together, care together, love together.”