Keeley Richards learned more in the six months she spent at Canberra United than she had her entire career, and that is why she jumped at the opportunity to re-sign for another W-League campaign.
The 26-year-old goalkeeper managed three clean sheets during the 2020-22 season, following her debut in round five after starting stopper Sally James suffered an injury.
Richards said she had options elsewhere but as soon as she was offered a spot back in green, she took it.
"The second [coach] Vicki [Linton] called me, I was always really keen to come back to Canberra. I had a blast last year," Richards said.
"I think I learned more in the six months playing down there than I had the entire 20 years previously I'd been playing.
"It was definitely something I jumped at straight away and I never really entertained the thought of going anywhere else."
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Richards has had some injury worries during her career, forcing her to undergo four operations after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament twice and undergoing a meniscus repair.
She spent the off-season with Logan United in the Queensland NPLW, and has been working on her knee rehab programs.
Richards said the off-season programs she received from United's medical staff, focused on strengthening her knees, had helped her a lot.
"It's actually been really good, I was sent back with a program from our physio which I've been working on that and doing a lot of strengthening exercises in the knee," she said.
"It's probably the best its felt since the four surgeries previously. I've played all the games up here, I haven't missed anything, so I'm actually feeling really good as far as all that goes.
"Coming off the the four knee operations I didn't really have the support and the help in order to get back to where I should have been. Now I have access to the likes of that and then just the programs of this specific training to work on what I need to. It's been so much better ... so I'm really lucky to have that opportunity and have access to all of all of that."
Last season James was lost to a broken finger, before Richards had to step up and United goalkeeper coach Chantel Jones returned from retirement to put her gloves back on.
During Linton's call to Richards, goalkeeper injury woes seemed to be on her mind.
"It's one of the first things Vicki said to me when she called me, she's like, 'How is everything'?" Richards laughed.
"I'm like, 'It's good, I promise'."
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