In the latest of our WA on Wednesday series of interviews with players from the NPL WA Women competition, Murdoch University Melville‘s Poppie Hooks (PH) spoke to Impetus’ Ben Gilby (BG) about last season’s huge success in the competition and playing A-League Women football at the age of 16 (6/7/22).
Above: Poppie Hooks (on ground) celebrates with her Murdoch University Melville teammates after scoring at Balcatta Etna. Photo: JASP Photography.
BG: Can you tell us about your footballing journey?
PH: I started playing for Echo White Caps in Southend, Essex in England when I was four-years-old. Once I moved to Perth, I joined Mandurah NPL starting at U12, and then joined Queen’s Park and played there for two years, before joining Murdoch University Melville. I also played last season for Perth Glory in the A-League Women as a 16-year-old.
BG: What’s the biggest challenge that you’ve faced in football?
PH: The biggest challenge I have faced is probably this season because a lot of our players at Murdoch left the team and went over to the eastern states for other opportunities, so I’ve had to step up and be a leader in the team with all the new players.
BG: Last season you were part of Perth Glory’s A-League Women squad. It was an incredible season for all sorts of reasons. How do you assess your time playing A-League Women football from a personal perspective?
PH: When I was playing with Perth Glory, I improved both physically and technically because of the high quality of opponents, but I mostly felt like I matured personally, with going away and the professional environment. I was lucky to be supported by all the girls like Morgan (Aquino) and Tash (Rigby) who helped to welcome me and helped give me the best experience and environment to grow in.
BG: With the Western Australia border being closed for all but the first week of the season, Perth Glory spent the campaign based in a hub in New South Wales. What was the reality of spending so long away from home like? How did you deal with the associated challenges?
PH: Like I said, I had a lot of support from my teammates. Being so young I was a bit out of my comfort zone, but with the environment created and my newfound professionalism it wasn’t much of a challenge, but still hard to be away from home for so long.
BG: Last season was also a successful one for Murdoch University Melville, winning the treble. What were the secrets behind those successes? What pleased you most about it from a personal and team perspective?
PH: Last year, our whole team had such good chemistry, and it also came to the high individual quality of each player, as well as some role models like Kat Jukic, and Tia Stonehill, just to name a few, that I really look up to. Despite all other aspects, winning the treble was a highlight and a massive achievement for myself and the team.
BG: Murdoch University Melville have a lot of new faces this season. How are things building at the club?
PH: It has been difficult losing players, but I think it’s a positive that all the younger girls from the 21s have been stepping up. Charli Wainwright and I have had to step up and become leaders and drive all the younger girls. But I believe that we have done a good job uniting the new team and we are really excited for the rest of the season.
BG: What are your aims for the NPL WA season personally and for the team?
PH: This season, my personal aims are to become more versatile as a player and improve my technical ability which will hopefully lead me further, but a big thing for me is to view the game more maturely and reserve myself in a professional manner on the pitch. In terms of team goals, we are all super enthusiastic about what we do and playing together, and we are striving to perform at high standards at each game. We aim to finish in the top four this season.
BG: More widely, how do you view the competition this season?
PH: The competition has definitely changed, and there are heaps of younger players and new faces as well as familiar players moving over to the eastern states to play football. I still find games to be competitive and fun for me to play in, even though most teams’ rosters have changed over the new season, it’s good to have a change and to play against new opposition.