Sunday Story: Princess Ibini

Sydney FC Women’s star Princess Ibini is set to make her 100th Liberty A-League appearance on Wednesday night against Western United as the winger becomes only the club’s second player to reach the feat.

Teresa Polias, the former Sky Blues captain, reached 100 appearances for the club at the age of 27.

Princess Ibini is only 22.

The Matildas forward started training with the Sky Blues at just 12 years of age and made her club debut at 15 – going on to play in six Grand Finals out of a possible seven.

I never would have thought I’d get to 100 games

Princess Ibini

“It’s been an amazing journey to get to the hundred games, I’m very excited about it,” said Ibini.

“Training here since I was 12 has been an amazing experience and I probably wouldn’t be here without all the coaches I’ve had over the years to help me get to where I am.

“Honestly I never would have thought I’d get to 100 games but it’s amazing and 15-year-old me would be very proud of herself to see that she’s been able to play 100 games for Sydney FC in the club that she’s always wanted to play for.”

Now chasing Polias’ record of 145 Sydney FC appearances, Ibini is eager to show young girls coming through the ranks that they can also reach A-League Women’s milestones.

The Sydney-born winger, who also has Nigerian background, encourages young players to “enjoy” their football as the rewards will then follow.

“Always just try to have fun,” Ibini explained.

“Enjoy yourself because that’s when you play your best football, if you put too much pressure on yourself you’re not going to do well.”

Ibini celebrating a goal against Melbourne Victory at Cromer Park

A simple yet effective strategy, this mindset has earnt Ibini eight caps for the Matildas and a national team debut against the United States as a 17-year-old in 2017.

The youngster also bagged her first goal for Australia last June in a 1-1 draw against Portugal and is working hard to be selected for the Matildas squad at upcoming 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“Yeah obviously you want to make that squad but first and foremost I want to continue performing for Sydney FC,” Ibini said.

“If I make it, I make it. If I don’t, it’s not the end of the world. I’m still very young and only 23 people get to go.

“It would be a privilege to go but I’m young and hopefully there’s many more World Cups I can go to in the future.”

Now accustomed to national team football, Ibini’s Matildas debut in 2017 meant that she and brother Bernie, who formerly applied his trade in the Sydney FC Men’s team, became the first brother and sister duo to play for the Socceroos and Matildas.

“Bernie and I didn’t play together growing up as much as people might think because there is an eight-year age gap so that does hinder things but we did kick around the ball a bit,” said Ibini.

“But my brothers always played and I started playing when I was about 4 years old. My first club was Earlwood Wanderers so that’s probably my earliest memories of just playing around and kicking the ball with my brothers.”

Growing up, Princess always had older brother Bernie to look up to for football, but she also made herself familiar with the world’s best athletes.

“I loved Ronaldinho because he always played with a smile on his face and I loved that about him,” Ibini said.

“Outside of football though I’ve always looked up to the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus.

“Just the powerhouse they brought into sport, especially for black women, was something amazing.”

With love for sport and pure enjoyment for football, Ibini has all the tools to make it another successful season in Sky Blue as the club chase their third successive Premiership title under Head Coach Ante Juric.

The attacker has been lethal for Sydney FC for many years – involved in 24 goals in just 55 matches over the last five campaigns – scoring 15 and assisting 9.

And after narrowly missing out on the Championship trophy in the previous two Grand Finals, Ibini is setting her sights on claiming the ultimate prize in 2023.

“Definitely want to win the Premiership and the Championship,” Ibini said.

“That’s what we’re aiming for but we’re just going to take it game by game and see where it goes.”

See the Sky Blues in action this Wednesday as Ibini is set to make her 100th Sydney FC appearance against Western United in Melbourne – kick-off 5:00pm.

Coverage available via Paramount+ and 10 Play streaming platforms.