The Illawarra has its fair share of football superstars playing in Australia's national teams, but four Illawarra-based physiotherapists have been integral to some of the Socceroos and Matildas key moments in recent years.
Matt Whalan, Stella Veith, Daniel Giorgio and Cara van Wyk - based out of Figtree Physiotherapy - have been working with the Socceroos, the Matildas, the Olyroos, the Junior Matildas, the Young Socceroos, as well as the ParaRoos and ParaMatildas just to name a few.
Here's an overview of what they have been doing:
Dr Matt Whalan
Currently the head physio for the Olyroos, Figtree Physiotherapy's head physio Whalan has got an extensive CV when it comes to football.
Football has taken him on a journey to the Tokyo Olympics as one of the team's physios as well as the 2019 under 17 men's World Cup, for the Young and Junior Matildas as well as the Young Socceroos.
He was a team physiotherapist for the Socceroos World Cup qualifiers in Kuwait and Japan in 2021.
He began his work locally at the Wollongong Wolves and at the South Coast Flame as a medical and health coordinator, which continues to this day.
After completing his PhD in 2020 on 'injury prevention in football', Whalan has gone on to develop Football Australia's new national injury prevention and program system.
Whalan said he was thankful for Wollongong-based Football Australia chief medical officer Mark Jones for his original opportunity to work for the national teams.
"My initial introduction was I was doing my PhD down here, looking into injury prevention into football through the University of Wollongong and I met up with Mark Jones to get an approval to run it," he explained.
"Then he was interested in what we were doing and there was an opportunity a couple of months later where they needed a physio at the last minute and asked me if I was available. That's how it all came about."
Veith's accolades include being the head physiotherapist for the Junior Matildas as well as the South Coast Flame women's team.
Due to complete her PhD in 2024, Veith also spent time as a team physio for the Matildas in 2021.
"It's been a lot busier recently with the Junior Matildas," Veith said.
"Last year we went to the AFF under 18 championships and won that, so that was awesome. I've been with the team for about four years and I think it's great to see that young talent and help them on multiple levels to help them with these new experiences and the pressures and things like that.
"Last year we went to Indonesia and no one had really travelled and I think only four players had been overseas before. That was definitely a good experience. I feel like with that age group it is often more than just football, which is quite rewarding."
After spending four years with the Sydney FC academy, Veith then moved into her role at the Flame and said that was a rewarding experience.
"I think it's great being able to support local players that are really talented and educate them about what they can do to look after themselves."
Many supporters of Tarrawanna in the Illawarra Premier League know the name Daniel Giorgio with the physio working with the Blueys for a number of seasons now.
But more recently he has been working as head physio of the men's ParaRoos team. Giorgio just recently returned from the Asian Cup where the ParaRoos finished second which meant they booked their place in the World Cup in 2024.
"I've been blessed with my career and even prior to this I did a lot of work with other national teams like the Young Socceroos, the Young Matildas and the Joeys as well," he said.
"The ParaRoos journey I've found the workload is good in the sense that the athletes are very professional in the way they go about things.
"The ParaRoos is very much different to any other national team in terms of funding. Everything is very well thought out and practical and utilised."
Cara van Wyk
The head physio of the women's ParaMatildas has been busy of late with the team returning from winning the IFCPF Asia-Oceania Championships only a few weeks ago. She also recently moved home to the Illawarra and started a new paediatric and neurorehabilitation clinic called NeuroCentric.
Van Wyk said that she had found working with the ParaMatildas over the last few years a brilliant experience due to her background in paediatrics and neurology.
"The ParaMatildas only formally launched as a team in March last year and we had our first World Cup in May last year, where we came second," van Wyk said.
"And then we've just come back from the Asian Cup as well. It was fantastic, hard work but very rewarding. The team is incredibly talented and I think what's been really wonderful to see each athlete growing in terms of managing those really high frequent loadings.
"With a World Cup and an Asian Cup where there are games every day or every second day, there's a lot more fatigue management, load management and performance-based impairment management than when the games are more widely spread out."