In the latest of our WA On Wednesday series of interviews with NPL WA Women players, Perth RedStar‘s Jay Coleman spoke to Impetus’ Ben Gilby about her footballing journey and her club’s incredible season (17/8/22).
Above: Jay Coleman (left) putting in a challenge for Perth RedStar against Hyundai NTC earlier this season. Photo supplied by: Carlos Vega Mena.
Jay Coleman’s football career has taken in three countries. The Kiwi has been playing the game for as long as she can remember, and credits the sport for keeping her on the straight and narrow.
“Ah look, football has kept me out of trouble and been a huge part of my life. I started playing in New Zealand when I was five. I played with boys up until I was no longer allowed to play with them and had to join a girls’ soccer team. I started playing women’s football when I was 14, alongside playing for my school team and representative football.
“Football basically took over my life when I was an adolescent. I moved to Perth at the end of 2015 and joined Redbacks for a season in 2016, before moving to London in 2017 where I played two seasons for Fulham Ladies in the fourth tier of the game there before moving back to Perth in 2019, and returned to the Redbacks last season.
Coleman describes herself as a player who likes to “try and control the game from the midfield, as well as being strong in the air and having a decent strike on me.” Whilst she has played several seasons for Northern Redbacks, now known as Perth RedStar, her most proudest achievement with the team came as recently as the start of this campaign.
“Winning the night series final this year against Balcatta Etna, coming back from 2-0 down was definitely the proudest moment for me as a Redback. The game meant so much to us as a team and as a club being our last official game as Northern Redbacks. The fight and determination we team showed was incredible and I was honoured to be part of the team.
“The game was so exciting! We had a nervous start and Balcatta took advantage of that, scoring a couple of goals early on. Our captain Shawn Billam stepped up and scored a much-needed goal just before halftime. We played for each other, and we played for the club, as I mentioned above it was a big game for us, and losing just wasn’t an option.
“We are a great team, work together well, move the ball, and create many scoring opportunities and there was never a moment where I thought we couldn’t win the game.”
With Northern Redbacks being one of Australia’s most successful female-only clubs, their merger with ECU Joondalup to form Perth RedStar – a club with male and female NTC and youth sides – was always going to be one of mixed emotions.
“I was always for the merger,” Jay explains, “as I only saw positives to come from it. The merger will provide our players with greater opportunities moving forward.
“Having ECU as our home ground is definitely a noticeable difference the field is much wider and bigger than Celebration Park and I think it suits our game more playing on a bigger field. It’s also nice playing after the men and having food after the game, creates a nice team and club culture. In New Zealand its normal to provide food for both teams after the game and debrief on the game, so it reminds me of being home which is nice.”
Whilst Perth RedStar’s NPLW rivals have generally have found it hard to maintain form on a consistent basis, Jay’s team are streets ahead at the top of the table and have already claimed the NPLW WA title having won 16 of their 18 league games, drawing the other two. On top of this, they have claimed the State Cup as well as the aforementioned Night Series. The New Zealander doesn’t take her team’s huge advantage for granted as the season approaches its pointy end with the Top Four Cup.
“Yeah, look, we have started off the season how we wanted, and we hope to continue that way for the remainder of the season. Personally, I just want to play good football, win games, and score more goals.”
One of the reasons behind RedStar’s successes this season is that they have retained such a large number of their previous season’s squad – something that a number of their opponents did not manage to do, as Coleman observes.
“The competition is always strong but this year with a few players moving to play over in the eastern states, a lot of clubs are rebuilding their teams with younger players coming up to fill those spots. I think as the season goes on and those younger players get a feel for playing at a higher intensity the competition has got stronger and stronger.”