PHOTO: VALENTINE SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
On the Bench with Gemma Pearce
Team: South Wallsend
Position: Centre-back / Midfield
Gemma began kicking a soccer ball with Kahibah Junior Soccer Club at the age of 5.
Following many successful years selected for representative clubs and competing in State Championships, Gemma decided to challenge herself within the Herald Women’s Premier League (WPL) in 2011, singing with Valentine FC.
That year proved to be a defining year for Gemma as a player as she not only began playing in the WPL but was also signed with the Westfield W-League Newcastle Jets squad for their 2011.12 season.
Gemma remained with the Valentine FC for the following season, where she was awarded the Herald WPL Player of the Year. She continued to push through the ranks, and was selected for Northern NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) in 2012 and again in 2013.
In 2013, she moved to Lake Macquarie FC for a season with the WPL and continued to play with the Newcastle Jets Women on the WPL’s offseason.
Unfortunately, in 2013 Gemma developed a compartment syndrome. The injury she had sustained in her shins, prevented her from continuing as a player for the Newcastle Jets Women.
Gemma says her experience with the Jets was a “massive career highlight” as it gave her an opportunity to “work with different talented and experienced coaches and players”.
Following a comeback from her injury, Gemma went back to where it all began and signed with Valentine FC for the 2014 and 2015 season.
Last year, Gemma signed with South Wallsend and despite their season being riddled with injury, including an early loss of Captain/Coach Stacey Day to ACL troubles, she said she has loved playing with the Wolves.
Over the “last two years playing [with the Wolves], we have had a great bunch that never give up even when we are short [on numbers]. Having fun and being passionate is the key,” Gemma explained.
This season Gemma has a vision to “push [the] younger girls to get into first grade,” and it is this kind of support for younger players that are coming up through the ranks that the WPL values.
Gemma gives her players player to Merewether United’s midfielder, Jane McDonald. Gemma says she usually gets the not-so-easy task of defending Jane. “I’m usually the player defending her [and] she pushes me to do my best,” Pearce said. She continued to explain that she considers Jane to be an extremely skilful player, who is hard to defend.
OFF THE FIELD:
When Gemma is not tending to her WPL responsibilities, she may be found at the beach and walking her dog. Gemma loves to find the best breakfast cafes in Newcastle with her partner, and following a full tummy, the two are often found going on adventures! At the moment, the pair are working hard in their venture of owning not one, but two hair salons – Blanc Hair Studio!