In our latest interview in the WA On Wednesday series featuring players from the NPL WA Women’s competition, Fremantle City‘s Jessica Darmago spoke to Impetus’ Ben Gilby about her footballing journey, life at the top four challengers, and competing at state level in Tae Kwon Do, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as well as football (13/7/22).
Above: Jessica Darmago strides forward for Fremantle City this season. Photo Denyse McCulloch, supplied by: Jessica Darmago.
Fremantle City’s Jessica Darmago has been in superb form this season. Not only is she a goalscorer, but consistently dangerous in her wide play. Darmago’s talents enable her to take on and beat opponents before cutting into the box to link up with her teammates.
The Freo star, who describes herself “as a creative, explosive and attacking styled player” started playing the game at a relatively young age as she explained to me. “I first played at my local club, South Perth United FC when I was about eight years old, but I grew up kicking the ball in the backyard with my brothers years before that. I joined the NTC U15 and U17 squad and later moved to Queen’s Park to play in the Premier Division for a few seasons.
“Unfortunately, due to many ankle injuries including a fully ruptured Achilles, I ended up taking three full seasons off football and was unsure if I would ever return. But when I heard the women’s NPL WA was going to be launched in 2020, I was determined to make a come-back. I joined Curtin University for two seasons, before moving across to Fremantle City for this season.”
Darmago received representative honours in her teenage years, as she highlighted. “My first state trip was with Football West U15s at the National Championships, and I was lucky enough to be identified and selected for the National All-Star Team. I was also selected for the National All-Star University (Green and Gold squad) three times, representing UWA in Futsal in 2015 & 2017, and football in 2016.
“Futsal is such a fast-paced game that requires quick thinking. It has definitely helped me with my touch and control especially under pressure when playing 11-a side. I am really lucky to be given the opportunity to travel and play in tournaments that really challenge me.”
The Fremantle player was also invited to train with the state’s sole A-League Women club Perth Glory in the past, however, at the present time, Darmago is not focusing on a return to the highest level at the present time. “At this stage, I am happiest when I am having fun, and playing good football,” she said. “In saying that, if the opportunity were to ever arise in the future I would jump at it.”
Jessica played for the opening two seasons of NPL WA football for Curtin University. It was a challenging experience, but one she enjoyed. “Unfortunately, recurring injuries caused me to miss out on half of my first season with Curtin. I also missed out on the second half of the following season due to a hamstring tear.
“I knew it would be very challenging at Curtin being a new team in the league, especially when many other teams have played together for years. I am still very grateful to have joined Curtin and see the growth of the squad over the seasons.
Darmago sees her move to Fremantle City for this season as one which is developing her further as a player. “It has been great playing at Fremantle City. I love that I am being challenged at training and games with a group of like-minded players. We are a determined, relentless team that aims to play the best football that we can. Off the pitch, the team is very close which translates to the performance on the pitch.
“As a team, we are pushing to take out the title this season. I don’t have any specific personal goals, but I want to walk away from the season knowing that I have given my all and played the best football that I possibly can. More widely, it is great to see more competitive games between the teams in the league this season, making for exciting games where anything can happen.
Away from football, Jessica has also represented WA in Jiu-Jitsu and she is additionally a Tae Kwon Do second Dan Black Belt. She highlights some of those experiences. “I have always trained Martial Arts from a young age. I grew up doing Tae Kwan Do, received my black belt after seven years of training, and won state tournaments.
“Due to my recurring ankle injuries, I took three seasons off football and that is when I started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Initially, it was just a way to keep fit, but I quickly fell in love with it and began competing, training once to twice a day. This led me to win multiple State WA Championship tournaments, and I had the opportunity to travel to the USA to compete at the World Championships.”
Jessica Daramgo is one of the stand-out players in the NPL WA this season, but more than that, as a female athlete, she is someone to keep an eye on across the three sports she competes at a high level.