To celebrate Female Football Week 2016, Northern NSW Football will be publishing a series of profiles of females flourishing in football, highlighting the important contributions they make to the game.
Profile: Keely Gawthrop
At 12 years of age after kicking the ball around the backyard with her brother and father for several years, Keely decided it was time to start playing football for real and joined her local team in Adamstown.
“Mum was slightly against the whole idea,”’ she stated, “But I really wanted to give it a go, and I am so glad that I did!”
Keely signed up for the Under 12 girls team at Adamstown Rosebud JFC and from there went on to play State Youth League for Northern NSW and joined the Herald Womens Premier League (WPL) in its inaugural year in 2009 with her junior club.
“Our team struggled, I think we got the wooden spoon 3 years in a row, it was disheartening,” she reminisced.
The constant underperformance led Keely to give up playing in the WPL.
“In the end, I just didn’t enjoy it anymore, I lost my passion for the game.”
However in 2015, after 3 years away from the WPL, she felt the need to join the competition again.
“I still loved playing football, I continued playing for club teams though I decided I wanted more of a challenged and believed it was time to reignite my passion for playing in the WPL competition.’’
And that’s exactly what she did.
Keely came back to the Herald WPL and Joined Wallsend FC which coincided with the clubs first year in the competition.
“I wanted to join a new club and Wallsend was a good fit for me as they were just joining the league due to an expansion of the Herald WPL competition.”
At the completion of her first season back, Keely was awarded ‘WPL Player of the Year’ at the Annual Northern NSW Football Awards Night.
“It was unexpected!” she said modestly.
“I honestly had no idea!”
Off the back of her performance in the WPL, in 2015 she was invited by Craig Deans coach of the Newcastle Jets Women to train on occasion with the W-League team.
In 2016 at 24 years of age Keely is now Co- Captain for Wallsend FC and is aiming for another stellar season.
“For me right now, I want to focus on playing good football and for Wallsend to make the top 4. I really like a bit of ‘healthy competition’ and this season we have a great team to back us up!”
When asked if her passion for playing in the WPL is back she stated that it definitely was.
“I’m so inspired by the way the Matildas are playing right now and I want that to flow into my football. I would love the opportunity to make the Newcastle Jets Women squad for season 2016.17, even if it’s just the opportunity to train with the girls again, it would still be an amazing experience”.
When asked what she would say to young girls thinking of trying football for the first time she stated,
“You will regret it if you don’t. I have played in girls teams my entire football journey and I have made so many wonderful friends!”
“I love being active and getting out there, there is nothing not to love about football, everyone can get something out of it!”