Sasha Sparkes: Goal Scorer Extraordinaire

Ben Gilby speaks to Helston Athletic’s Sasha Sparkes, who is quite probably the greatest woman goal scorer that you may not have heard of.

Sasha Sparkes is a player with a quite phenomenal scoring record for Helston Athletic. A tally of 135 goals in 42 games of which this season 32 goals have been scored in just 12 games. Sasha is one player that is worthy of huge respect.

We started our conversation with the Cornish hotshot telling me about her background: “I come from a big happy family! I was born June 24th 1991 in Truro. We lived in Penryn and then moved to Falmouth when I was four. I’ve lived in Falmouth ever since. Falmouth for me is more than just a base, it’s the definition of home. It really is a beautiful place to live. I consider myself very lucky that I am only a two minute drive away from the beaches.” 
Sasha moved on to fill us in on her footballing story: “I’ve been playing football since I was about 10 years old. I have my Dad to thank for that. He has always been very passionate about Smara (my twin sister) and myself playing the sport. We have always been quite sporty since we were little. We lived across the road from a field and any chance my dad wasn’t working he would take us over to the field and practice our basics. Kicking, dribbling, all of the stuff needed that I use today. It was in that field where we got spotted from a manager from Falmouth Town Girls U12’s.”

“We weren’t long with Falmouth Town U12’s as our friends played for Falmouth United U12’s, inevitably being young we wanted to play with our friends. Our manager Steve Oliver was a fantastic coach. It was there that we won the league four seasons on the trot. We were unstoppable. After that, for a couple of seasons, football kind of just halted. Back then there wasn’t really much of a transition from U14’s to U16’s. My friends and I played for the school team but not many games were organised so we found ourselves back in the field where it all started playing BUTT slaps or World Cup.”

 “I finally turned 16 and I was introduced to the ladies game. What a difference! Seven a side to eleven a side. Thirty minute halves to forty-five minute halves. It was a huge transition but one that I welcomed. I played for Penryn Ladies for a couple of seasons and we did well, but like most ladies teams after a while the team folded. It was there that I had a phone call from Neil Phillips, a manager that played a massive role in the player I am today. He asked me to join Falmouth Town Ladies as he had a good set up with lots of decent players signing on. I signed on, worked hard and that team was one of the best teams I have ever played for. Neil worked us hard at training, hours and hours of hill sprints, bleep tests and two touch football. At the time I hated the training but the team he created and the fitness, skill and stamina of all on the pitch was truly noticeable against other teams. It was here I was partnered with Katy Barker up the top and what a truly awesome partnership we had. It was either one or the other for league top goal scorer through the seasons, we didn’t mind who got it as long as it was someone from our team.”

 “I can’t remember which way around it was, but between Falmouth Town Ladies and Truro City Ladies we became 1st and 2nd in the league and were promoted to Premier Division. With players going off to university and other reasons, Neil took the chance to merge the two clubs together at Truro City. It was very hard putting the two together as we all played differently. It didn’t take long though before we started gelling as a team and our first season in the Premier Division we became league runners up. What a great finish after being promoted. It was then where players decided the travel wasn’t worth the next division. Being all the way down in Cornwall and being hundreds of miles away from top teams its hard finding committed players to travel on a Sunday.”

 “I had a season out after that and that’s when Helston Ladies was formed by Stu Massey and with the help of Charlotte Sparkes-Bond. Helston had great facilities and a great pitch. Steve Massey was always helping to run the line for us and supporting us in any way that he could. Stu drove us to success and we became League Cup Winners and League runners-up. For whatever reasons, Helston then decided to fold and I had a season out. As any player would say I hung up my boots, everyone knows it’s never for very long.”

Above: Sasha Sparkes – a Cornish footballing hero. Photo: Harry Price.

“My sister signed for Illogan Ladies and I would go to support them. It didn’t take very long for myself to miss football and I signed for a few games. My heart was still with Helston and its set up, so when I got a message from Paul Parfitt that he was setting the women’s team back up, we had a chat over coffee and I liked the plans he had for the team. I signed for the team and that brings us up to present day.”
We then moved onto Sasha’s incredible goal scoring record. For her, part of the story is down to circumstances: “Helston lost the battle to enter a higher league when the club was first set up. The appeal caught attention from Richard and Warren from Cornwall FA who supported Helston with their case, but unfortunately it was unsuccessful. This then meant we had to enter the Cornwall Women’s Football League (CWFL) at the bottom of the football tier.  I’m an experienced player and have been playing for 18 years and found my experience within that league beneficial to these statistics. My role as a striker is to put the ball in the back of the net, regardless of the team and the ability in front of me. That being said, I score against everyone I’ve played against regardless of their perceived level, teams such as Illogan, FXU, Saltash and Marine Academy Plymouth in the FA Cup. I have the ability to score at all levels.” 
Like any good striker though, Sasha recognises that she is only as good as the structure of the club she is part of and the players who surround her: “The set up I have at Helston is like no other team I have played for. It’s honestly incredible the facilities and coaching that is offered at Helston. Firstly the manager Paul Parfitt puts the women first in everything he does. He makes sure the morale in the team is up, organises all the matches, the training, all of the social media posts, picks the team every week and liaising with our coach Martyn Pennington who is also a massive part of Helston. Paul and Martyn are a great team who work so well together. They make the smooth running of the club look very easy and behind the scenes I see how much effort they both put in and it reflects on the team. They personally give me constructive criticism after every match which I look forward to in order to improve my game, without it I wouldn’t learn to be a better player.”

“On the pitch, I’m only as good as the service I receive, which is bloody brilliant. I honestly play with the nicest bunch of women who know exactly how I play. Without my team mates I wouldn’t be able to get to the stats I have today.”

The obvious next question to ask though is, with such an incredible goal scoring record and goals-to-game ratio, does Sparkes have any desire to play at a higher level? 

“I’m very happy with where I am at with Helston Women,” Sasha replies, “Our goals are to win this league and get promoted and then win the league after that. This plan is near enough in the distant future but not so far we can’t reach it.  I believe a back to back promotion is a sufficient challenge for myself and Helston Women as a club as a starting point. This season we did very well in the FA Cup and we played FA Women’s National League side Southampton FC Women at home – what a tie that was – I hope next season we can go through the rounds and at least make the First Proper Round of the FA Cup.” 

Above: Sasha in action for Helston against FA Women’s National League side Southampton in the FA Cup this season. Photo: Matt Friday.

Earlier in our conversation, Sasha mentioned playing football with her twin sister Smara as a child. The pair are still going strong together today at Helston: “I absolutely love playing with my twin. All of my success with football I have shared with her. We have quite the trophy hoard! Smara is quite modest and doesn’t actually know how much of a good player she is, I think that’s a great quality to have, she doesn’t need to boast as her football does the talking.”

“She’s played sweeper for many years and I trust her back there with any challenges she faces! Smara is one of the most technically gifted players in the team and her main strength is her faultless ability when she has a ball at her feet. She is one of the best sweepers I have ever come across along with Tyler Mathews from Callington Ladies. When they played together at Truro City they were a force to be reckoned with.” 
With Sasha well into her eighteenth year playing the game, I wondered what was the greatest challenge she has faced in that time? “My biggest challenge I would say for myself would be the transition from U16’s to Ladies football. It was a massive thing to do and adapt to the adult game. Luckily U16’s in this day don’t have to worry too much about it. I think there is now a great stepping stone for the girls especially at Helston Women where next season we look to set up a development squad to introduce the adult game to them.” 
So far we have heard what an impressive and ambitions club Helston Athletic are, but I wondered what specifically makes them so forward looking and what they are aiming for in the next few seasons. 
“Our club ambition of the team is to win the Cornwall League, then take promotion and win the South-West Women’s Football League (SWWFL), progress further in the FA Cup next season and win a County Cup in the next few seasons. This we hope will then create a platform for the best local players to come to us, meaning they will not have to travel to other clubs to meet the expectations. I would love to play alongside Keri-Ann Moxom again, but she felt the need to travel to fulfil her ambitions of playing in the SWWFL. I believe when Helston gets promoted this season in to the SWWFL we will have the very best infrastructure that meets the needs of the very best local players as well as retaining the current players by matching their personal desires and pushing them to their targets. The ambition of Paul Parfitt and Paul Hendy is to turn Helston in to a powerhouse for women’s football in Cornwall. It is extremely exciting and inspiring to be part of, let alone captain the team!”

Whilst Cornwall has not quite suffered as badly as some other areas in the coronavirus pandemic, there have still been a number of restrictions imposed in the area. Sasha explains how it has impacted on the club: “It has had a massive impact on grassroots sports, but apart from the most recent lockdowns we still managed play some matches previous to that. All of the rules and regulations were adhered too and it wasn’t the same as what I’m used to but I was just glad that we could be together as a team and still play football. Lockdown 2.0 was hard as we just came together as a team and really gelled together and then we were told there would be a four week lockdown and grassroots football would be suspended. But our manager Paul Parfitt set us the ‘Lockdown Challenge’. Paul challenged us all to run at least 1km a day and with that he would donate to the Helston and Lizard Foodbank for every player that completed the challenge. Paul Hendy our chairman and Sandra Bell personally matched this also by donating a Christmas hamper to the foodbank for every player who completed it. We ended up running 400km which is a great effort by all.”

We ended the conversation by exploring what makes Sasha tick as a person. In terms of her own sporting heroes, despite having been an unashamed Red, her real hero can be found in Cornwall.

“To be honest with you, I used to be a glorified Liverpool fan and used to follow players back in 2010 when the likes of Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso played (world great players). But for me my footballing hero is a bit closer to home. My dad, as cliché as that sounds. He was a great player when he was younger. I hear many of stories about how good of a player he was. He’s taught me everything I know and has always been there for me and Smara, the cold Sunday mornings, the summer football tournaments, the football night’s out and presentations, Cornwall trials and the training sessions. He hasn’t missed one of our games, and believe me that is a lot of games! I owe a lot of my football success to him.”  

Off the pitch, life for Sasha revolves around her job and partner Ellie: “I’ve worked in the cash office for Tesco’s for just over 10 years and I love my job. I have the perfect work hours and having the weekends off means I can still play football without having to get it covered. When I’m not at work or playing football I’m normally in the gym or out running. I’ve always liked to take care of myself. Having a partner who also likes to do them things is a bonus also. Our cheat days are Saturdays so we always like to find a new restaurant that we haven’t been to around Cornwall and get ourselves a well-deserved coffee and cake.”

The conversation concluded by looking at the goals that Sasha is setting herself for on and off the pitch over the coming few years.

“Well in five years’ time I shall be 34, and not sure I will be as agile as I am now. My plan in the future personally is to start a family with my partner Ellie. There will be a time that I hang up my boots and stop playing the sport. Before I do, there are a lot of achievements left that I would like to contribute too. Ellie also plays for the team and is a great centre back. I’m worried for her little head with how many headers she connects too. We will absolutely be there on the side line cheering on Helston Women and supporting them in any way that we can.” 

Teenage Hunter The Hero For Wanderers

Western Sydney Wanderers 2–2 Adelaide United

Report and EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from Kris Goman.

Western Sydney Wanderers ended a run of losses after gaining a draw against Adelaide United at Marconi Stadium.

Above: Seventeen year-old Western Sydney Wanderers starlet Sarah Hunter grabbed her first two W-League goals in only her third game. Photo: Kris Goman,

When they say Western Sydney, they really mean Western Sydney. Marconi stadium is a long way from the City of Sydney – forty kilometres from my house in the inner west. This is actually my favorite stadium despite the long drive. There’s plenty of parking, plenty of seating, an old school tuck shop and it’s usually not too crowded which I like. It’s also a stadium that, when there’s not a global pandemic, it’s easy to meet the players afterwards and get autographs and photos. And it’s the Wander Women’s home ground.

Adelaide United are playing in their yellow and red away uniform which makes it look like they work at a multi-national fast food chain. Mac attack coming up. Unusually for a women’s soccer team, most of the South Australian side seem quite tall, with the exception of Rojas. They must have the tallest average of all the teams in the W-League by a long shot.

Wanderers are playing 4-3-1-2 and Adelaide are playing 4-3-3. Wanderers kick off, lose possession immediately and are pushed back. They get possession back and drive forward and eventually Leena Khamis takes a shot from outside the box that goes straight to the keeper. She hasn’t scored this season yet and questions need to be asked about this soon. Wanderers are keeping quite a high line and exerting some early pressure.

In this match, possession it more like ping pong. It’s back and forth, passes are badly directed and it’s usually more than one touch to bring the ball under control. For the W-League to get better, the passing game really needs to improve.

Nikola Orgill sends a cross into the box which is headed by Sarah Hunter over to Khamis. It arrives a bit high for Khamis to control and her aerial kick goes wide to the right.

Above: Leena Khamis strains to reach a header against Adelaide United. Photo: Kris Goman.

Hunter then passes to Georgia Yeoman-Dale at the top of the box and she dribbles the ball to the left of goal and sends a cross right across the front of goal but there’s no one there to tap it in and an opportunity goes begging.

Adelaide make a couple of forays into the Wanderers half but they result in long shots into Willacy’s arms.

A ball bounces into the box for Yeoman-Dale (Yeo-Da) to take a shot on her left foot but it’s just wide to the right and sails out harmlessly. Looks like she copped an elbow to the nose soon after and it’s bleeding a bit so play stops for that to be attended to.
A long ball from Maria Jose Rojas comes through the centre for Chelsie Dawber to run onto and Adelaide are taking more control. Orgill manages to draw a foul to stop the run. Shortly after, Dawber makes another run into the box that’s foiled by a slide tackle from Caitlin Cooper.

Down the other end, Danika Matos sends a great ball across to Khamis but the header goes well wide to the right of the box. Following up, Yeo-Da gets a free kick from a foul on the right hand side of the box. The ball goes to the far post but Khamis can’t control the header, which admittedly wasn’t in a great position, and it bounces over the goal line.

We’re thirty minutes in and Wanderers look to be the better side with more possession and more chances but Adelaide have looked dangerous on transition.

Speaking of transitions, at thirty-three minutes in, a lob comes in to Dawber from the right and Sarah Willacy is right off her line to meet the oncoming attack. Dawber flicks it up and Willacy gets a hand to it but it’s not enough to deflect the power or direction and the ball hits the back of the net for Adelaide.

Almost immediate after the kick-off, Chloe Middleton gets a shot on goal after a miss-kick by Matilda McNamara but it’s wide to the left.
On another transition play for Adelaide, Dawber sends a long ball from the left to Mallory Weber in the box but Willacy beats her to it and has it safely.

Charlotte Grant kicks off an attack for Adelaide with a nice run and pass into the box that is cleared but goes straight back to Adelaide. Grant gets the ball again on the right of the box and has a little battle with Yeoman-Dale before passing back to Dawber who also manages to avoid Yeo-Da. She crosses a beautiful pass to the feet of Rojas at the top of the box who slips it past Willacy towards the left post. It’s in the net but Rojas is offside so it doesn’t count. I replayed this a few times as the broadcast replay made it look like she wasn’t offside but she definitely was when the ball was kicked so good call. Nice play though.

Above: Charlotte Grant trying to find a way through for Adelaide United. Photo: Kris Goman.

Another good play by Adelaide sees the ball moving around the box culminating in a header by Weber that skims the top post. Adelaide have stepped it up now.

Three minutes before the break, Yeoman-Dale gets the ball on the right flank. She beats Grant and brings it into the box for the cross. Near the goal line she flicks it back in front of goal. Hunter runs onto it and directs it to the far post and it beats a stretching Sian Fryer-McLaren and Isabel Hodgson’s feet for her first goal in the W-League. She’s obviously got a few friends in the crowd as there’s a lot of excited screaming. We’re level at 1-1 now.

Above: Wanderers celebrate their equalising goal before half-time. Photo: Kris Goman.

From the kick-off, Wanderers are back with possession after Russell, the Irish international, intercepts a poor pass and gets it across to Yeo-Da, centred at the top of the box. She leans back too much and has skied a sitter.

With a minute of stoppage time, the Wanderers get a free kick after Russell is slightly injured in a heavy tackle. The ball goes to the right of the box but is harmlessly out over the goal line in a wasted opportunity before the interval.

Wanderers are applying the pressure early in the second half and Khamis gets a penetrating run down the left but her back pass is squandered. Western Sydney get a free kick just out from the top of the box after a heavy tackle on Khamis by Maruschka Waldus. Adelaide sets up a five person wall. Yeo-Da to take it. It clears the wall but she’s had too many Weetbix this morning and it keeps going over the top bar.

A Wanderers short corner is cleared by Adelaide but on the way down the other half, Dawber gets an elbow from Orgill and is straight down clutching her throat. It will take her a little while to recover from that and it looks very uncomfortable. Surprisingly there’s no foul and play is restarted from a throw in.
Rojas gets a run into the box but is surrounded by three defenders who relieve her of the ball. She’s technically so good but can’t overcome those numbers.

Above: Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide United battle it out for possession at a corner. Photo: Kris Goman.

Back at the other end Russell slides a lovely pass to Hunter who’s threatening a second goal but McNamara blocks the shot and it’s out for a corner. Nevin takes it and it’s to the far post but is cleared out of the box. From a throw-in, both Russell and Khamis get a shot but both are blocked and Fryer-McLaren scoops it up. I’d half like to start calling her Fry-Mac but it doesn’t have the same ring to it and it’s just too redolent of the previously mentioned fast food chain. Big Mac might be more appropriate given her height.

Possession is currently 60 – 40 in favour of Western Sydney and it feels that way with Adelaide very dependent on transitions. But it is working for them.

A nice attacking run comes from a clearance from Fryer-McLaren direct to Hunter who turns it around and passes to Russell who sends a lovely ball through to Matos who runs onto it in the box. Her cross is spectacularly blocked by Waldus who stops Khamis from scoring an almost definite goal. Khamis clutches her head in dismay but later jokes about it with Waldus as they line up for the resulting corner.

Hunter takes the corner and it’s perfectly sent to Khamis’ head at the back of the box. The header is on target but straight to Fryer-McLaren’s safe hands.

Weber’s got some fancy footwork as she slips past a couple of Wanderers to bring the ball down the left. She sends it forward to Rojas who crosses in the box but she’s offside again, in what was a threatening run.

Fiona Worts comes on for United and gets employed immediately in a couple of runs down the left before it’s passed across to Grant on the right. There’s some play near the right corner flag before it goes out for an Adelaide corner. Almost everyone is directly in front of a very crowded goal for this. Inexplicably it goes to the back of the box and is headed away by Yeoman-Dale. Georgia Campagnale sends it straight back in. It’s picked up by Waldus. She gets it out wide and a cross then comes in to Dylan Holmes who takes a high strike off her chest and belts it past Willacy to take Adelaide into the lead again.

After the restart, Adelaide could have got a match clinching third when Rojas is through, but Willacy is quick off her line and gets there first and clears it emphatically.

Shortly after, Nevis makes a break down the left and gets a pass to Teigan Collister but she can’t connect and Fryer-McLaren gathers it up.

It’s straight back up the other end and Rojas is causing more mischief before playing to Condon in the box. Her shot goes high.

Wanderers break back immediately and Collister is off down the right hand side. She crosses back to Hunter who is always following up and in the right spot at the right time and she slots it under the arm of Fryer-McLaren as she jumps sideways and it rolls into goal. Grant takes a desperate lunge to try to save it but ends up prone in the goal with a cramp which Fryer-McLaren helps her to stretch out. 2-2 and we’re level again at 78 minutes. The seventeen year-old Hunter grabs the ball out of goal and runs back towards the centre with her celebrating teammates in hot pursuit.

Adelaide are back on the attack with another Rojas crusade. It’s blocked out for a corner by Orgill this time and clearly no one is giving up. The corner comes to nothing at the near post.

Copus-Brown cops a yellow for holding Dawber and bringing her down. The free kick goes over to the right from the left side but eventually it’s out on the sideline for an Adelaide throw in.

A long ball down the middle finds Rojas in a tussle with Orgill. Orgill goes over and Wanderers gets a free kick but it doesn’t really look like it was Rojas’ fault. Cooper comes through to cover and Rojas isn’t happy about it and there’s a bit of pushing and shoving between the two. Love a bit of South American passion.

Above: Libby Copus-Brown tries to get away for Western Sydney Wanderers. Photo: Kris Goman.

The ball goes up to the Wanderers end and there’s a couple of well- connected passes between Copus-Brown and Hunter. The teenager takes another shot, looking for her hat-trick, but it’s not on target this time and sails clear of the goal.

Both teams get a couple more runs into goal including one from Worts with a nice cross that is into empty space followed by a floater from Khamis straight to the keeper.

Rojas gets into the box yet again and passes back to Dawber but her shot is deflected out by Matos for a corner. That play looked genuinely threatening and we’re in the last minutes of a drawn game so the tension is high. Once again, absolutely everybody is in front of goal. This time the ball lands in the middle of the whirlpool. Waldus gets a head to it and it bounces straight up and Galea manages to clear out to the right side-line. Adelaide is applying all the pressure right now and Waldus gets another crack but sends it high over the goal.

Into stoppage time, Collister gets another wonderful cross from the right directly in front of goal but Galea can’t do anything with it under this pressure. Adelaide transition again and Worts is on the left in the clear. She gets it to Dawber who passes back to her at the top of the box. Her shot is just to the right of the post as she tries to curl it, in a pretty close call.

Some sloppy passing by both teams sees two chances squandered before Worts gets it on the right, passes to Campagnale who gets it across to Rojas who is unmarked and onside. She turns and shoots but Willacy has come out, made herself big and deflects the shot in a match saving move. She’s earned her pay today with that save alone. The game ends with extended ping pong in the midfield and we’re drawn two all at full time.

Above: Maria Jose Rojas caught the eye once more for Adelaide United. Photo: Kris Goman,

Hunter is player of the match with her first two W-League goals in just her third game. Apart from the goals, she was very solid in defence and all over the park backing up with ferocity. It’s a good call for this award and well deserved for a young player. I watch afterwards and she’s swamped by her friends from the stands that are understandably excited for her. She’s embarrassed by the attention but is lapping it up.

Teams: WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Willacy, Matos, Nevin, Orgill, Cooper, Copus-Brown, Russell, Middleton, Hunter, Yeoman-Dale, Khamis. Substitutes: Newbon (GK), Gomez, Collister, Galea, Henry.

Scorers: Hunter 43, 78.

ADELAIDE UNITED: Fryer-McLaren, Grant, I. Hodgson, McNamara, Walder, Campagnale, Holmes, Condon, Rojas, Dawber, Webber. Substitutes: Grove (GK), E. Hodgson, Hogg, Worts.

Scorers: Dawber 33. Holmes 71.

Referee: Rebecca Durcau.

Attendance: 415.

Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.

Artwork: Graphics by PW

Victory Show Character To Stifle Jets Comeback

Melbourne Victory 4–2 Newcastle Jets

By Kieran Yap.

Melbourne Victory hosted Newcastle Jets at a windy Latrobe City Stadium in Gippsland. Victory needed to win to keep up the pressure on Adelaide in fourth spot above them but The Jets with the in-form Tara Andrews are not a side to be taken lightly.

Above: Melina Ayres celebrates her brace in Melbourne Victory’s dramatic win over Newcastle Jets today. Photo: @VictoryWLeague.

Victory started aggressively, they moved the ball forward at pace, pressed high up the field and were eager to test Newcastle ‘keeper Nicole Simonsen early and often from long range, looking perhaps to take advantage of the swirly, blustery conditions.

The breakthrough came early, after some tricky wing play by Mindy Barbieri in the 13th minute, Amy Jackson teed up a shot from distance that fell to the feet of Melina Ayres. The Victory striker struck quickly and accurately off her left foot and into the corner, the ball almost crossing the line before the defence had time to react. It was an instinctive strike of great technique that took Simonsen by surprise.

Melbourne kept the pressure up and Catherine Zimmerman was unlucky not to double the lead minutes later after her shot fizzed wide and Barbieri was next to try her luck from long range after Kyra Cooney-Cross created some space with a clever dribble down the centre.

The first half continued to be all Victory, The Jets had trouble clearing the ball or finding any fluency in attack. Cooney-Cross whipped in a free kick that bounced dangerously but wide and Claudia Bunge saw her headed attempt on goal from a corner cleared off the line by some desperate defending.

Newcastle appeared to be doing well to stay in the contest, Lauren Allan tracked back well to stop a mazy run into the box by Lia Privitelli but the corner kicks were coming repeatedly for The Jets to defend and it felt inevitable when one finally resulted in a goal.

Claudia Bunge again got on the end of a corner kick, again it was on target but this time it crossed the line. She stooped down low to meet the ball and connected well, Simonsen reacted quickly enough to reach it, but not cleanly enough to stop it bobbling over for a goal, it was a touch unlucky for Newcastle, but Victory had deserved a second.

Before half time Victory added a third, Catherine Zimmerman who had been a lively nuisance all game collected the ball facing goal and slipped in a well-weighted ball into the path of the overlapping Cooney-Cross. The Victory playmaker, collected it without breaking stride, cruised into the penalty area and after a quick glance to see if a square-pass was on she finished confidently into the far bottom corner off her left foot.

Above: Kyra Cooney-Cross (7) is congratulated after scoring for Victory. Photo: @VictoryWLeague

After the break, Newcastle scored early and gave themselves a lifeline, a long ball forward wasn’t dealt with by the Victory defence, and the ball fell to Tara Andrews, she’s been deadly around goal this season and did not hesitate to pull the trigger, smashing the ball past Garton and into the far corner off the left foot. Bunge had done well to contain her up until this point but good strikers only need one half chance and Andrews took hers with deadly efficiency.

Victory substitute Lisa De Vanna set about immediately restoring the three-goal lead, she ran onto a long ball and cut back onto her right foot wonderfully with a back heel move in the box. She shot but was well blocked by some committed defending.

De Vanna again broke free behind the defenders and ran onto a Melina Ayres through ball only to be denied by Simonsen in a one-on-one face off. De Vanna was causing problems with her movement and skill but would have expected to score from that range, Simonsen did very well to narrow the angle and save.

Newcastle heads didn’t drop despite being on the back foot and Rhinanna Pollicina in particular looked determined to impact the game, a great run and pass by Sophie Harding on the left flank found Pollicina in space but her shot from 20 yards was scuffed and did not trouble Garton.

She did not have to wait long for her next opportunity, a long ball from defence found her in a surprisingly amount of space behind the Victory defence but still onside, she spotted Gabby Garton well off her line and coolly lofted the ball over to bring Newcastle to 3-2 and with 15 minutes to play.

Victory responded by going straight on the attack again. De Vanna played in Kyra Cooney-Cross, the young gun strode into the area and shaped to shoot but Hannah Brewer slid in brilliantly to clear the ball. It had to be a perfect tackle, any half-second off and it would have been a penalty and maybe game over.

Newcastle kept trying but Victory had them pinned back again as in the early stages of the game, after a sustained period of pressure Barbieri played the ball wide to Melina Ayres. She had the time and technique to shift inside from the right flank and line up a shot on her rocket of a left foot. The ball flew through a crowded penalty box and nestled into the net to restore the 2 goal cushion and relieve the tension.

The game ended 4-2, Cooney-Cross had a late chance to extend the lead with after racing toward goal and shooting off her right but The Jets were spared a fifth. Victory seem to be clicking, the team has consistency in its line-up and developing it in its performances. They have a skilled, unpredictable and mobile attack and can bring on the all-time leading Matilda’s scorer off the bench when 3-0 up (this feels like a violation of a “Mercy Rule” but I checked and none exists).

Above: Melbourne Victory had plenty to celebrate as they close in on cementing a top four place. Photo: @VictoryWLeague.

Newcastle remain a watchable team. Pollicina was well deserving of her first W-League goal and with Tara Andrews up front they can never be counted out of any game.

It was a thrilling, high scoring game with no broadcast issues, what more could you want from a Sunday evening Dub game?

Teams: MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Jackson, Privitelli, Cooney-Cross, Barbieri, Zimmerman, Ayres. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Markovski, Martineau, Zois, De Vanna.

Scorers: Ayres 13, 81. Bunge 41. Cooney-Cross 42.

NEWCASTLE JETS: Coelho, Tamplin, Simon, King, Brewer, Bass, Franco, Davis, Pollicina, Allan, Andrews. Substitutes: Simonsen, O’Brien, Petratos, Harding, House.

Scorers: Andrews 48. Pollicina 76.

Referee: Isabella Libri.

Attendance: 413.

Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.

Artwork: Graphics by PW

Sydney Win Grand Final Replay To Maintain Winning Start

Melbourne City 0-2 Sydney FC

by Kieran Yap.

After a last minute reshuffle of venues, AAMI Park was the stage for Melbourne City and Sydney F.C to face each other again for the first time since the last Grand Final.

Above: Sydney FC celebrate Natalie Tobin’s goal which clinched their 2-0 win. Photo: @SydneyFC

Sydney have been the most consistent side this season, undefeated after four games and putting themselves squarely in the top four, Melbourne City have been a team that has struggled for results but not for lack of effort, but more a lack of luck and perhaps a center forward.

The game started at a fast pace, both teams snapped into challenges and pressed without possession and both tried to play short quick passes when they had the ball. It was an erratic opening, neither team seemed afraid to make an error with fullbacks from both sides keen to attack down the flanks.

The first clear chance of the game came when Harriet Withers was released on the counter attack and after a surging run down the right flank she found Alex Chidiac on the edge of the area. With her back to goal Chidiac controlled the ball and swiveled to wrong foot the defense and leave her with only goalkeeper Jada Whyman to beat.

It looked a certain goal and a player of Chidiac’s quality would have felt confident of scoring, somehow Whyman managed to block the shot and keep the scores level. Sydney hit back through Princess Ibini, the young attacker wriggling between City players and turning to shoot from 18 yards out, the shot whizzed over the bar without troubling Micah but it was a warning to City that they had better not let Ibini shoot too often.

Withers and Chidiac combined again in a similar pattern, this time Chidiac shuffled herself into space and onto her left foot from 20 yards out, hitting a powerful shot just a little too high.

As play began to open up, Ibini got into space, when faced one on one with Teigen Allen she sized up the defender, slowed down a little and put on a burst of pace to cruise in on goal, Teagan Micah did very well to come out and smother the shot. It would be the last meaningful attack of the first half and both sides would have been thankful to their goalkeepers for keeping the scores level.

Above: Tori Tumeth controls the ball in the first half for Melbourne City. Photo: @MelbourneCity

Leah Davidson and Tyla-Jay Vlajnic had been busy for City with Emma Checker and Jenna McCormick’s partnership at the back denying the visitors any easy chances. For Sydney, Ibini looked dangerous and Ally Green was tireless and skillful on the left side, keeping tabs on Withers while getting forward herself regularly.

While the first half was balanced, exciting and tense it had the feeling of being only a moment of magic or a slip of the foot away from breaking open and when Shinatsu Kira latched onto a badly controlled ball and ran in on goal it looked like that moment had arrived. Whyman again was well positioned to stop it but Kira probably should have done better she couldn’t have known at the time, but this miss would prove very costly.

The ball went up the other end, Courtnee Vine competed with Emma Checker and won out, controlling the ball on the edge of the penalty box. She slipped a perfectly timed pass to the overlapping Remy Siemsen who cruised between the defenders and slotted the ball into the bottom corner, Sydney up 1-0.

It was a well-worked goal, a combination of direct football, clever movement and skilful footwork, both in the pass and in the finish.

Above: One of the few positives for Melbourne City on the night was a debut for 16 year-old Naomi Thomas-Chinnama. Photo: @MelbourneCity

The evening would go from bad to worse for City, Courtnee Vine was becoming more involved and looking more dangerous each time she was on the ball. She was responsible for the game altering moment when she received the ball at half way and seeing a paddock of space in front of her, charged toward goal. Vlajnic, who had been a danger to Sydney’s defence with her own runs, sprinted across field in an attempt to halt Vine’s momentum. The result was a missed tackle, a foul and a red card as the last defender, City were now down a goal and a vital player.

City battle bravely, Withers moved centrally and looked like a handful with her pace and tenacity. She found space for a shot that Whyman was equal to and again found Chidiac who couldn’t forge the right angle to score.

Courtnee Vine continued to torment the City defense her speed troubling them again when she ran onto a 40 yard Polias pass, however her shot could only find the side netting.

Another blow to City occurred soon after.

Jenna McCormick had put in a warrior-like shift, beginning the game bandaged and battling through the pain for the next hour. She had defended solidly and looked determined to help drag City back into the game. When the injury caught up to her it couldn’t have come at a worse time, Sydney had a corner, McCormick was receiving treatment behind the goal and City were temporarily down to nine players.

Teresa Polias whipped in the corner kick to the far post and Natalie Tobin rose highest to nod home, Sydney were 2-0 and even taking into account the considerable misfortune and errors by City, they deserved their lead.

Above: Natalie Tobin (12) celebrates her winner. Photo: @SydneyFC

City would battle on bravely but aside from some set pieces they did not trouble the Sydney F.C defense. Vine and Siemsen continued to threaten but could not extend the lead. Sydney probably wont mind thought. They had only just arrived in Melbourne that morning and it was an admirable, gusty and skillful win against determined opposition.

Melbourne City will be hoping that Jenna McCormick and Teigen Allen make swift recoveries from their respective injuries, the two Australian Internationals will be vital to salvaging the season. At the other end, Rado Vidosic will be eager to solve their goal scoring problems.

Teams: MELBOURNE CITY: Micah, Tumeth, Checker, McCormick, Allen, Vlajnic, Chidiac, Davidson, Hoelsbrekken Eckhoff, Kira, Withers. Substitutes: Barbieri (GK), Sardo, Thomas-Chinnama, Robinne, Dobson.

SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Hristodoulou, Green, Mclean, Tobin, Polias, Lowe, Wheeler, Siemsen, Vine, Ibini. Substitures: Offer (GK), Hawkesby, Ray, Rule, Toby.

Scorers: Siemsen 51, Tobin 75.

Referee: Isabella Blaess.

Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.

Artwork: Graphics by PW

The Swedish Scene

@DandalBs is back for his regular Saturday round-up of all the week’s news and speculation from the women’s game in Sweden. Once more, the new BK Häcken FF club are taking most of the headlines, but there’s also signs of international football returning…

Once again, the club making the most news is BK Häcken FF who formally took over the reigning Damallsvenskan champions Kopparbergs/Göteborg last week. They have announced that the long drawn out process has resulted in them only having seventeen players under contract at the time of writing. The uncertainty since Christmas had prevented any new signings. The first attempt to build the squad saw Serbian international forward Milica Mijatović become BK Häcken FF’s first ever signing. Mijatović most recently played for Apollon Limassol in Cyprus an before that won last season’s W-League title with Melbourne City. She has signed an eighteen month deal.

Above: Milica Mijatović, who will go down in the record books as BK Häcken FF’s first ever signing. Photo: @bkhackenff

To make their squad even smaller, three players, Hanna Wijk, Lotta Ökvist and Filippa Curmark have been injured in training. Additionally, FAWSL side Brighton & Hove Albion have signed Emma Koivisto on an 18-month contract from the club. The consequence of this is the club’s friendly match against Jitex in midweek had to be cancelled. They will hope that the injuries clear up in time to play their next scheduled friendly against Linköping today.

In terms of their management and coaching staff, BK Häcken have made big steps already. Rumour has it that former Sweden, Göteborg and Lyon great Lotta Schelin is one of the names up to discussion for their first Director of Sport. Schelin says she’s not closing any doors.

Above: Speculation is linking Swedish football great Lotta Schelin to BK Häcken as Director of Sport. Photo: Wikipedia.

The club have added to their senior team coaching staff by appointing Erika Faith, who works with their pre-existing fourth tier team to also becoming assistant coach with their new Damallsvenskan team.


The pre-season schedule for Damallsvanskan sides has just got underway. Yesterday, Växjö lost 0-3 at home to Rosengård, goals by Viggosdottir, Larsson and Schough were the difference. Today sees many more friendlies: Brommapojkarna face Djurgården at 1pm, Kristianstad are home to Borgeby at 2pm, BK Häcken FF play their first game against Linköping at 3:50pm.  Hammarby take on AIK at 4pm with Örebro playing IFK Kalmar at 4pm. All kick-offs are local time – subtract one hour for UK time.


Mia Eriksson reports that Sweden’s national women’s team will travel to Malta during the international break to play games vs Austria (February 19th) and Malta (February 23rd).

Piteå won their first pre-season game, against IFK Luleå’s 16 year-old boys team 4-0. Goals by Jennie Nordin, Hanna Andersson, Maja Green and Cecilia Edlund earned the win.

Djurgården has added another goalkeeper to their squad with the arrival of 24 year-old American Kelsey Daugherty. Daugherty spent two seasons at top Danish sideFortuna Hjörring and after that an uneventful last half of 2020 with Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL.

Lova Lundin, Umeå‘s second top goalscorer last season has left the club. The 22 year-old forward has joined EDF Logroño who sit just above the relegation zone in the Spanish Primera.

Above: Lova Lundin unveiled by EDF Logroño after signing from Umeå. Photo: EDF Logroño

The 26 year-old former Uppsala forward Nicole Odelberg Modin has signed for Spanish Primera side RCD Espanyol for the rest of the season.

Time To Talk Mental Health Support with Zoe Cossey

As part of Time To Talk Day, Wroxham Women’s Zoe Cossey gave an extremely powerful and personal interview to Ben Gilby about mental health, the importance of support networks and how it’s more than OK to ask for help when things are tough.

The impact of mental health is taking on ever more importance at the present time due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people who are forced to remain at home and face all sorts of concerns about their families and employment.

As someone who has suffered myself with mental health difficulties in the past and came out the other end because of the excellent support of the NHS, it is hugely important to try and help other people. It’s all very well for people to say “Oh, I imagine it must be awful” – but unless you’ve been there, you can’t imagine how awful it is.

This is something that Zoe Cossey, who plays for fifth tier Wroxham Women in the Eastern Region Premier Division can certainly identify with.

“I’ve struggled with my mental health for about three years now however I’m very lucky to have a great support network. I am now very open and honest with the fact I struggle with mental health, which I never used to be. I’ve had an incredible journey and I’m so happy with how far I’ve come, I’m very proud of myself for that.”

Zoe herself has extensive experience in women’s football despite being just 22 years-old. “I have spent the last sixteen years of my life playing football for teams like Waveney, Bohemians, Lowestoft Town, Ipswich Town and currently Wroxham Woman. I live with my boyfriend, my two step sons and we will be welcoming another little boy in June.”

She highlighted the importance of Time To Talk Day for helping others: “It is a fantastic initiative. It helps bring awareness, develops understanding and challenges ignorance. It encourages people to talk and listen about mental health. Talking is unbelievably important in the journey to battle mental health. 

“This year has been unbelievably difficult for everyone, but it can be significantly amplified for people who struggle with mental health. Not being able to do our ‘usual’ things and so many restrictions to our days, it takes its toll on all of us. For me, I’m a very family orientated person. I can only describe seeing them like a comfort blanket and not being able to see my family has really had an effect on my mental health. That’s why it’s been so important to open up and talk. Learning new ways and becoming more adaptable. We learn through others, other people’s experience and that’s another reason I feel it is so important to talk.”

Above: Zoe Cossey of Wroxham Women. Photo: Rebecca Burton.

I mentioned to Zoe that through my own previous struggle with mental health, I was fortunate to have great support from my family and the NHS to come through the other end. However, I’m more than aware than this is something that not everyone else may be lucky enough to have. I wondered what advice Zoe would you give to people who may not have people immediately close by to touch base with.

“There is always someone to listen,” she highlighted. “In the moment you may feel like there’s not. But there’s always someone. Even if it’s not immediate family or friends. There are so many fantastic support lines if you don’t have someone immediately close. There is nothing at all to be embarrassed or worried about, I’ve used them and they were so caring and understanding. It’s hard to take that first step but It’s what they are there for. Use them to help you. It really can make the biggest difference to your mental health and perspective on all situations.”

With Zoe having played for several different clubs in her time in women’s football, I wanted to ask her from her experience what she found mental health support to be like in our sport.

“Personally it’s very different in a variety of places. It all comes down to management, teammates and the club. I cannot express the amount of love and support I’ve had from everyone at Wroxham. I’ve never felt ashamed or had to hide my worries. I’ve been able to be open and honest about my struggles and have been supported throughout them.”

However positive things are at Wroxham, there are always things that can be done to improve the situation further. Zoe was clear on how things can get even better: “I feel like the more support given to people, as well as the more informed people are, the less stigma there is around mental health. It’s a really hard matter to understand what it’s like until you’ve gone through it in some form. So never judge a person who struggles, because that judgement is the problem and a big reason people don’t open up. If you don’t know how to help just be kind. That’s it. Be nice. That one bit of kindness could change a person’s day drastically.”

“The provisions and support in place for mental health is improving every day. I wouldn’t say its spot on yet, but it’s absolutely heading in the right direction. That’s why initiatives like Time To Talk and additional government funding will make a significant difference.” 

With children missing a lot of school at the present time and being denied sporting opportunities as well, I wanted to ask Zoe what she feels are the key priorities in developing mental health support for them.

Above: Zoe has had a hugely positive experience with Wroxham Women. Photo: Rebecca Burton.

“Mental health is talked about much more now than it ever has and whilst growing up children go through so much. So it’s essential all children feel supported and are fully aware of positive outlets for their thoughts and feelings. It’s important they know where they can go for support and who they are able to speak to. As well as this, children must be educated on techniques of how to cope with their feelings and emotions. Growing up can be difficult so it’s important they are educated on positive ways to deal with their emotions.”

“Children must know they are supported through everything also. They must know their thoughts, feelings and emotions will not be dismissed. There are so many people around to support and help them even if they don’t feel like they have with immediate family and/or friends. Ensuring children are aware of these support networks is absolutely vital in supporting the mental health of young people.” 

“In regards to sports, playing competitively can be quite stressful and can cause anxiety for some people. It’s essential that children are supported and understood to allow them to grow and be successful playing sports. Sport and physical activity is proven to significantly improve a person’s mental health, providing it is in a caring, supportive environment. Always remember, player before the sport.” 

We concluded our chat by finding out what Zoe’s plans were for Time To Talk Day: “I have completed a mental health first aid qualification and support some of my students at work.”

“I try to use my social media to share good ideas and personal experiences to support and talk about my mental health. I hope this helps just at least one person cope a little bit better or makes them smile in some way.”

It was an absolute pleasure to hear Zoe’s thoughts, she comes across as a true example of someone who is a fine role model for young women and girls both within and outside of football.

If you take one thing from this article, remember this piece of advice Zoe gave us when reacting to others: “Just be kind. That’s it. Be nice. That one bit of kindness could change a person’s day drastically.”

Impetus are hugely proud to have an official partnership with Wroxham Women, which includes the player sponsorship of Harriet Meers. Artwork: Graphics by PW.

The View From France

Last weekend saw the last sixteen of the French Cup. Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up all the action.

This weekend saw the entry of the D1 Arkema teams in the last sixteen round of French Cup. This year is a little special as the D1 teams have to compete against each other. So six top flight teams are already eliminated.

Olympique Lyonnais qualified for the next round by winning away from home 5–0 against Reims. There was no contest from Reims in this game dominated by the visitors from the beginning to the end. Jean-Luc Vasseur, Lyon Coach, even used this game to give play time to several players and tried different game plans like putting Sakina Karchaoui as a left striker in the first half or putting the recruit Damaris Egurrola in the middle in the second half. Goals for Lyon by Dzsenifer Marozsán (16, 51, 53), Wendie Renard (36 penalty following a long run of Delphine Cascarino from her own 20 yards), Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir (49). Dzsenifer Marozsan scored her second goal with a lob from 40 yards. Sara Gunnarsdottir scored her goal with a lob also from 18 yards.

As we saw our second left back in this game, I would like to use this opportunity to present a comparison of their outstanding statistics. Selma Bacha: left back in the first half – 40 balls played: 34 passes (85% successful), one cross, three balls recovered, twice heading off the line with her goalkeeper beaten and no errors. Sakina Karchaoui: left back in the second half – 39 balls played: 32 passes (87% successful), seven balls recovered; no errors. We are so lucky at Lyon to have two of the best left backs in D1 which can also play as left midfielders.

Above: Ellie Carpenter charges forward for Olympique Lyonnais against Reims in the French Cup last weekend. Photo: @OLFeminin

Bordeaux at home needed 30 minutes to really take the game on their own but qualified against Le Havre 5–0. Pedro Martinez Losa, the Bordeaux coach, made a few changes which probably explain the slow start of the team. Goals for Bordeaux by Khadija Shaw (37, 56), Katja Snoeijs (39, 42), Inès Jaurena (75). Khadija Shaw continues to score in each game she plays, and her statistics are impressive: 14 games (13 in D1), 19 goals (17 in D1).

Dijon, at home, created the big surprise of this qualifying round by winning against Paris FC after a penalty shoot-out. At the end of the game both teams had scored 1 goal (Linda Sällström 28 for Paris FC and Desire Oparanozie 67 for Dijon).

A summary of the penalty shoot-out: Gaëtane Thiney, Paris FC (0-1), Léa Declercq, Dijon (1-1), Théa Greboval, Paris FC (1-2), Rose Lavaud, Dijon (2-2), Anaig Butel, Paris FC (outside), Hélène Fercocq, Dijon (3-2), Tess Laplacette, Paris FC (stopped by the goalkeeper), Salma Amani, Dijon (4-2).

Paris St. Germain won 2–0 away from home at Fleury to progress without any problems. Olivier Echouafni, Paris SG coach, made a few changes leaving Kadidiatou Diani (came on as a substitute in the 76th minute) and Marie-Antoinette Katoto (entered at the 82nd minute) at rest for most of the game and not selecting at all Christiane Endler and Formiga for this game. Goals for Paris SG by Sara Däbritz (30 penalty) and Signe Bruun (52). The D1 Arkema league leaders continue on the road of French Cup final. Will we have a Paris SG – Lyon final again?

Guingamp, at home, win the game in the opening fourteen minutes to win 3–0 against Soyaux. No surprise and no suspense in this game. Goals for Guingamp by Romane Munich (7 own goal), Sarah Cambot (10), Alison Peniguel (14). Romane Munich, Soyaux goalkeeper, was not lucky in this game as she released the ball on the first goal and when Alison Peniguel took advantage of a misunderstanding between her and one of her defenders on the third goal.

Issy qualified by winning at home against Montpellier 2-1. Goals for Issy by Julie Machart-Rabanne (14), Salma Zemzem (95). Goals for Montpellier by Maëlle Lakrar (53). This is another surprise of this 16th round. Even if Montpellier did not play badly, they were not able to bother Issy who probably wanted more to win than them. Issy, who are battling against relegation in D1 Arkema being tenth with only 7 points having played one game more than bottom club, Le Havre, who have five points. They were able to defeat the 4th  placed side of D1 Arkema. Montpellier are on a dangerous slope as their last win was five games ago and they practically already lost the battle for the third place in D1 Arkema. Issy’s win ensures they have now gone further than ever before in the French Cup.

Matthew Aumeeruddy: A Coach To Be Proud Of

This piece was originally published on the British Football Coaches website and can be accessed here: 1st Team, Academy & Community – Matthew Aumeeruddy (

Above: Matthew Aumeeruddy. Photo via: British Football Coaches.

How did you get into coaching and what has your path been like?

I’ve always had a passion for football for as long as I can remember. Although I enjoyed playing football, being autistic I struggled with the social side of football which meant I stopped playing football altogether around 13 years old. Nevertheless, I was still obsessed by football with an interest in football tactics and understanding why certain actions happened such as patterns of play. The more I watched and studied football the more I wanted to work within the industry, particularly at that elite level with an emphasis on the technical/tactical side of the game.

My first real taste of working within football was a work experience placement at Brentford FC Community Sports Trust when I was 15 years old. I continued to volunteer with trust and as well as well as starting my coaching qualification at the earliest possible age (16 years old). I then progressed to a paid role within the organisation while completing further coaching qualifications.

My next major step was to university and studying an undergraduate course in Sports Coaching Science (BSc) at St Mary’s University. This was an important course in gaining an understanding of the complexity of coaching, including the various disciplines that feed into it e.g. analysis, psychology, pedagogy for example. During my third year I completed my UEFA B Licence. I continued to coach at various places most notably with Staines Town college programme and with a newly formed women’s side called Ashford Town (Middlesex) FC with whom I still coach today with. My role at Ashford Town was is first team assistant head coach in which I deliver training session and devise playing strategies along with head coach Will Boye.

Most recently I returned to St Mary’s University for their newly launched postgraduate course performance football coaching (MSc). This was a great opportunity to improve my theoretically and practically knowledge. I wanted to do this alongside gaining an experience within a performance environment which I managed to gain as an intern at Barnet FC’s academy. Within this I managed to gain practical experiences observing and delivering alongside excellent coaches within different age groups as well as delivering on the 16-18 elite development programme. This was a great opportunity to learn and to put theory into practice.

After a season in the intern role, I then progressed to become a part time age group coach within the foundation phase of the academy, primarily working with the Under 11s. Unfortunately, the role ended when the academy closed in the summer of 2020.

Today, I have just finished completing the master’s in performance football coaching as well as still working as assistant head coach with the women’s team Ashford Town (Middlesex) which will be my 5th season with the team.

Any memorable experiences you would like to mention?

Above: Matthew working at Ashford Town (Middx) Photo via: British Football Coaches.

In terms of team achievements, the main ones that I always refer to are with Ashford Town. To have achieved four promotions in four years as well as winning various county and league cups is quite remarkable. We feel there is still much more to achieve as we believe we can progress even further up the women’s football pyramid.

From a personal perspective, I think my achievements have also been by recognizing certain milestones and landmarks for example completing degrees and coaching badges aswell as obtaining new coaching positions such as getting my first paid role at Brentford Community Trust through to become an Academy Coach at Barnet FC.

You mentioned that you were autistic, what does that mean and how do you feel it influences your ability to coach?

I specifically have what is formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome (this now falls under the Autism Spectrum Disorder). It is very difficult to explain as it affects people in so many ways and each case is different from another. A generic understanding of autism is that it is a condition which social functioning and development. But I would encourage anyone who is interested to visit in order to get a further understanding on it.

In my case, the main thing is reading the social dynamics and interpersonal interactions can be difficult to navigate. Nevertheless, I feel I have developed positively over the time and can read situations better the more experience I get. Another thing that I would also I would also point out that is that autistic people can have intense interests. I think in my case it is definitely football, in terms of it being that driven and detailed in my approach to the sport. I even leave a pen and paper beside my bed and sometimes wake up and write down ideas!

Do you see your autism as a potential barrier in realizing your ambitions of working within the elite game?

That is something I am keen to avoid! I think there comes a time where everyone has barriers to overcome in order to realize ambitions. I suppose the main reservations to people with autism working within the professional football industry are the ability have effective communication and build relationships with players and staff. In my case, I have recognized these as key areas that I need to be strong in and have made a conscious effort to develop these skills.

Especially when I was in the academy office at Barnet FC, I felt I have positively developed my ability to “read the room” and gauge what interactions are appropriate with the different stakeholders considering their characteristics. All in all, I believe the experiences I have gained so far within different environments (senior men’s, women’s football, youth football across different ages and abilities) and personal qualities such as dedication, respectfulness and loyal nature have served me well so far and I will continue to further develop these in the future.

How would you describe your approach to coaching including skills sets you possess?

I am very detailed in my approach, using evidence-based methodology and looking to utilize all resources available to achieve objectives. This means I have needed to develop a side in which I can confidently adapt to the context in which I am working in.

I very much have the players at the forefront of my mind and try to develop positive communication with them in order to understand how best to facilitate their development. I would say my strongest skills sets lie within the technical/tactical details of the game. I have a very analytical mind and enjoy identifying technical/tactical patterns and problems and then devising practices to deliver based on what was identified.

What’s been best for your career development so far and what do you do to keep upskilled?

I would say the undergraduate and postgraduate courses have had a large impact on my development as they went beyond the standard courses run by the FA in terms of knowledge around coaching practice. Most importantly, during the latter part of my undergraduate and throughout my postgraduate, it helped me develop critical thinking skills in order to analyze different approaches to coaching and player development.

In terms of developing football knowledge, I would have to point towards the informal learning such as observing other coaches working within different contexts. One example that still resonates was watching sessions at Brentford FC academy, before it was closed, and seeing the environment that was created and standards at which coaches operated. This provided a template for me to inspire to. I continually look to discover and opportunities new ideas. For me every day is an opportunity to learn!

How’s the future looking for yourself?

I still have the ambition of working fulltime within the elite game at senior or youth level whether that being as a head coach, assistant head coach, specialist coach or in recruitment.

I am currently looking for my next role within an elite setting such as an academy where I can positively contribute as well as continue developing my skills set within that context.

From an education perspective, my next steps are to go onto the UEFA A Licence and Advanced Youth Award. As well as continuously engaging in informal learning activities such as observational study visits to continuing to upskill myself.

Above: Matthew pointing the way to success. Photo via: British Football Coaches.

Name, age, where are you based?

Matthew Aumeeruddy, 25 years old, London, England

Current and past Roles:

First Team Assistant Head Coach – Ashford Town (Middlesex) Women’s Football Club.

Academy Coach – Barnet Football Club.

Community Sports Coach – Brentford FC Community Sports Trust.


UEFA B Licence.

FA Youth Award.

Sports Coaching Science (BSc) with First Class Honours.

Performance Football Coaching (MSc).

Sky Blues Go Clear

Sydney FC 2–0 Newcastle Jets

Report and EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from Kris Goman.

On a drizzly Sunday evening, there’s a surprisingly decent crowd to watch Newcastle take on undefeated ladder leaders Sydney FC at Cromer Park in Manly.

Above: Tessa Tamplin (left) fires in a cross against Sydney FC yesterday. Photo: Kris Goman.

Newcastle kicks off. Straight from the kick off Tara Andrews, in her 100th W-League game, gets the ball at the top of the box and takes a shot on goal. It’s safely in the hands of Jada Mathyssen-Whyman but it’s a bit of a shock for Sydney to start.

It’s back up the other end quickly and it looks like we’ve got a game on our hands as Remy Siemsen starts her campaign. Newcastle defence are all over it though and soon enough the Jets are attacking again. 

Rhianna Pollicina is blocked but it goes over to Lauren Allan whose shot goes to the left of goal. Both teams starting off strong.

An attacking push by the Jets sees the first corner to be taken by Gema Simon. It goes to the near post but Alisha Bass heads it across the goal and away from the strikers and Sydney now have possession. A run down the left flank by Clare Wheeler is initially thwarted but the Ally Green does a 1-2 with Wheeler and takes a shot from the left outside the box that’s on target and has Claire Coelho at full stretch to tip it over the crossbar. 

Teresa Polias’ corner kick goes to Ellie Brush at the back post who heads it just over the crossbar. Sydney have turned up the heat now and a Jets back pass goes astray for another corner. The corner is cleared and Newcastle’s defence holds strong during an extended period in the box.

At 20 minutes in, Sydney look marginally on top with the game mostly in their half. Pollicina takes a long range strike but it isn’t dangerous and goes straight into the hands of Mathyssen-Whyman.

From the mid field, Polias sends a long ball to Princess Ibini. She flicks it up and heads it onto Siemsen but it’s not controlled and ends up in the hands of Coelho. A few more attacking runs come to little but then Ibini picks it up again in the midfield and dribbles towards the box unchallenged. She passes to Mackenzie Hawkesby who sends it on to Vine at the top right of the box. She calmly lobs a shot from just outside the box that Coelho can’t quite reach and it goes into the left side of the goal and Sydney hit the lead, 1-0. Vine is cool as a cucumber after the goal and waits for her teammates to run up to congratulate her. 

Five minutes later and Cortnee Vine brings the ball into the box from the left. A shot is well blocked and rebounds to Green who sends to Siemsen in front of goal. She deflects the ball past Coelho into goal but she’s offside. She’s got a wry smile but accepts it.

Another attack by Sydney ends with a slide tackle by Hannah Brewer. Sydney are making good use of the space and keep switching play from side to side with long passes.

Just before half time, Newcastle transition but Pollicina only gets a very weak shot on goal that is easily gathered by Mathyssen-Whyman who hasn’t been too busy for a while.

Early in the second half, a tussle, or more like a spot of wrestling, between Taren King and Siemsen sees King get a yellow card. There’s been a few clashes where both players have ended up on the deck so far but this is the first yellow of the match. The resulting free kick is taken by Polias and everyone’s lined about two metres from the top of the box.

Above: Newcastle Jets’ Taren King (left) goes in for a midfield challenge. Photo: Kris Goman.

She slips it low past the wall and Vine runs onto it in the clear with just Coelho between her and a goal. She shoots high to the right and Coelho is able to bat it down with both hands on what looked to initially be a certain goal. Turns out Vine was offside anyway so even if she got it past Coelho, it would have been disallowed.

In another attack, Hawkesby passes through to Wheeler who brings it down the right side and crosses to Siemsen who tries to head the ball but misses. Ibini chases it down and passes to Green who lobs it back to the centre but the Jets manage to clear it.

Ally Green, who’s having a blinder of a game, brings the ball down midfield and gets tackled but does some tricky footwork, a spin and a lunge and then gets a push in the back to eat some dirt but gets a free kick for her trouble. The free kick is in almost exactly the same spot as the one Vine nearly scored from and is set up the same way. This time it ends up out on the far side-line and the throw in results in a corner.

The corner clearance ends up with Simon who passes to Sunny Franco who dribbles down towards the right corner but then switches back to Tessa Tamplin who loses possession. It’s the first time Newcastle have looked dangerous this half.

A long clearance by Sydney ends at the feet of Coelho with Siemsen rushing her. She fumbles with the ball at her feet but clears it. Davis tries to move it on but Ibini has other ideas and relieves her of possession and takes off down the left. Cassidy Davis trails closely behind but gets tangled in her feet and they both hit the deck with a thud. Davis gets the second yellow of the match. King heads the free kick over the crossbar safely for a corner.

The corner is once again the start of a transition play for the Jets and sees Allen running down the left with Sydney in hot pursuit. She brings it into the box and Green has managed to get back and clears it perfectly and quite spectacularly.

Above: Lauren Allan crosses into the box for the Jets. Photo: Kris Goman.

Harding comes on for Allen. The Sydney goal kick goes to Green who sends it upfield to Coelho with Siemsen closing quickly. The pressure sees Coelho sky the ball. When it eventually comes down from space, Siemsen, Ibini and Tamplin are there. Siemsen chests it to the right and strikes. Coelho has recovered enough to touch it but not to stop it and the ball sails into goal. Siemsen gets her long awaited first goal of the season and celebrates appropriately. 2-0 Sydney. 

Almost straight after, Vine sends a perfectly placed cross to Siemsen’s head but it’s deflected to the left of goal.

A ball is sent across from Harding to Tamplin. Green beats her to it and kicks it out. It looks like it deflects off Tamplin lower leg on the way out but Tamplin thinks Green kicked it out and picks up the ball for a throw in. The linesman indicates the other way and then Tamplin just boots the ball sky high in defiance. That goes down like a lead balloon and earns her an immediate yellow card for a moment of stupidity. 

Above: Sydney FC’s Mackenzie Hawkesby (left) in a tangle with Newcastle Jets’ Sunny Franco. Photo: Kris Goman,

Green gets about five more throw ins as the ball goes in and out along the side-line. She gets a ball back to her and starts dribbling but is tripped by Franco and is on the ground face down again. And guess what? It’s another yellow card, this time for Franco. At this stage Newcastle are making some really dumb mistakes. Almost immediately afterwards, Pollicina yanks on Wheeler’s arm to bring her to the ground in a judo style move. It’s a free kick and I think yet another yellow.

Play gets back to relative normal. A ball is sent down the centre and Ibini is on it like a gazelle. She sidesteps King in the box and it’s just her and Coelho when Brewer comes screaming in, and in a sensational slide tackle and clears it out of the box.

With about 12 minutes to go, Brewer brings the ball down the left and sends a long ball into the box, beating the Sydney defence. Mathyssen-Whyman comes out of goal to clear it and then collides with a defender before running back to goal. In the meantime the ball has landed in front of Andrews but Brush is able to clear it in a very close call.

Then Tamplin gets the ball at the top right of the box and has an unimpeded shot at goal. It’s just high and lands on top of the net instead of in it. Newcastle have settled down a bit and finally trying to come back.

Pollicina sends a beautiful pass through the centre of the Sydney defence for House to run onto in the box. She’s onside and it’s just her and Mathyssen-Whyman. The Sydney goalkeeper comes out and throws herself sideways at the ball and gathers it as House leaps over her. Mathyssen-Whyman is suddenly very busy and engaged and proving her worth.

Above: Sydney FC goalkeeper Jada Mathyssen-Whyman looks on as her defence tries to tidy up. Photo: Kris Goman.

Newcastle continue to attack but can’t make any serious inroads through the Sydney defence. In a final fling, Harding sends the ball across goal from the right. It goes slightly behind House and hits her hip. She’s able to give it to Pollicina right in front of goal. She sends the ball flying over the crossbar instead of into the net for what should have been a sitter.

The match ends with Sydney on a for match winning streak conceding only one goal over that period, although they have only played Newcastle and Western Sydney Wanderers twice each so far. The Sky Blues are now clear at the top of the table as well which should make the fans very happy.

In the end, it was a well-deserved win. Sydney were able to finish and didn’t lose their cool. The same couldn’t be said for Newcastle with four or five yellow cards in that crazy period in the middle of the match.

Teresa Polias got Player of the Match and while she’s always solid, I was a little surprised by this. I really thought Ally Green should have got this award. She had a couple of incredible goal-saving tackles and was all over the field in both attack and defence. A truly outstanding effort.

Teams: SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Mclean, Green, Tobin, Brush, Polias, Wheeler, Hawkesby, Siemsen, Vine, Ibini. Substitutes: Offer (GK), Hristodoulou, Ray, Toby.

Scorers: Vine 32, Siemsen 61.

NEWCASTLE JETS: Coelho, Tamplin, Simon, King, Brewer, Bass, Franco, Davis, Pollicina, Allan, Andrews. Substitutes: Simonsen, O’Brien, Petratos, Harding, House.

Referee: Kelly Jones.

Attendance: 1,329.

Sydney FC44009112+ 8
Canberra United532011611+ 5
Brisbane Roar624011410+ 7
Adelaide United5302879+ 1
Melbourne Victory5212997=
Newcastle Jets5113784– 1
Melbourne City61147154– 8
Western Sydney Wanderers51043133– 10
Perth Glory3012241– 2

Top four sides qualify for the finals at the end of the regular season.

Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.

Artwork: Graphics by PW

Chelsea’s Class Too Much For Spurs

Chelsea 4–0 Tottenham Hotspur

by Ben Gilby

Chelsea maintained their position at the summit of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League after overcoming an uncomfortable opening twenty minutes to eventually dispatch Tottenham Hotspur with ease at Kingsmeadow.

Above: Sam Kerr heads home Chelsea’s third goal against Tottenham Hotspur at Kingsmeadow this afternoon. Photo: @BarclaysFAWSL.

In the team news before the game, Chelsea lost Erin Cuthbert from the squad and kept Academy players Jorja Fox and Aggie Beever-Jones on the bench for the second time in a week.

Tottenham Hotspur boss Rehanne Skinner handed Abbie McManus her debut following her move from Manchester United with Aurora Mikalsen also making her first start in goal.

Spurs were noticeably targeting their early attacks down the left hand side but the first main opportunity fell in the home side’s favour. Fran Kirby played in Guro Reiten down left and the Norwegian cut in and played in a high bouncing ball which Sam Kerr lifted over the bar.

Spurs created two great opportunities in quick succession after the ten minute mark. First Jessica Naz was fouled on the left wing. Kit Graham’s free kick was played in and was met with a header by Ria Percival which fell to Alana Kennedy whose shot was blocked and deflected out to Shelina Zadorsky. Her great curling effort which just went over.

Graham came close seconds later after being played in by Percival and the Chatham born player hit a shot which off the right hand post with Ann-Katrin Berger beaten.

With nineteen minutes played, Graham was unlucky once more as she was played in by Kerys Harrop, turned and her effort forced a great save from Berger.

Chelsea responded with Fran Kirby after a move down the right involving Mjelde and Kerr. The Lionesses’ star, in great recent form hit the side netting on the right hand side.

Spurs conceded a free kick which Reiten played short to Ji. Spurs thought they had cleared the danger, but Ji took possession near the centre circle and found Melanie Leupolz in space. The German ran the ball forward before unleashing a sensational effort into the net from over 25 yards.

Less than ten minutes later, Spurs were further punished for not taking one of their early opportunities when Pernille Harder doubled Chelsea’s lead. Aurora Mikalsen’s loose clearance was gobbled up by Kirby who took the ball down the right, cut in and played a low ball into the feet of Harder who was in space. Abbie McManus tried to head Harder’s shot clear but only succeeded in wrong-footing her own goalkeeper and the ball ended up in the net.

Above: Abbie McManus (right) had a mixed debut for Spurs.Here she is seen accelerating away from Pernille Harder. Photo: @SpursWomen

Spurs were now finding it extremely hard to maintain possession. This plus a worrying habit of continually giving Chelsea’s stars far too much space directly led to Chelsea’s third goal seven minutes before the break.

Harder was free yet again down the left and played in an inch perfect cross to Sam Kerr who came in to the far post unmarked to nod home the sort of goal that is her trademark for The Matildas.

Chelsea were absolutely rampant at this stage with their wide players causing Spurs major headaches down both flanks. The North Londoners were grateful to hear the half-time whistle before the score line could get worse.

Spurs lined up at the second half with four at the back and five in midfield and it ensured that Chelsea’s momentum was halted in the early exchanges at least.

Seven minutes into the second period, Chelsea earned a corner. Guro Reiten’s ball in was met first time on the volley by Pernille Harder with her rocket headed off of the line by Ria Percival.

Harder had another chance when found by Fran Kirby, but Spurs managed to ensure that the hosts lead was not extended.

Within seconds of coming on to replace Sam Kerr, Beth England won a penalty after her cross in hit the elbow of Kerys Harrop. Up stepped Melanie Leupolz on sixty-three minutes and the German comfortably sent Mikalsen the wrong way as she dispatched the ball right into the bottom left corner.

Above: Guro Reiten gets a cross in despite the close attention of Tottenham’s Ashleigh Neville. Photo: @SpursWomen.

With just over twenty minutes left, Ji was allowed to dance through the midfield and played a ball out to Hannah Blundell who earned a corner from Harrop which Spurs cleared at the second attempt.

Jessie Fleming had a great chance shortly after when Harder found her on the right hand side of the box. The Canadian fired in a great effort which Aurora Mikalsen pushed away for a corner. Reiten’s ball in was met again by Harder, this time on the half-volley and it went just over the bar.

Chelsea were now once more extremely comfortable on the ball and could have extended their lead further before the end.

With ten minutes left, Sophie Ingle hit a long ball which England nodded down to Reiten who stretched out to get a toe on to ball which Mikalsen did well to hold.

Ji then came close after being played through and toe poked a weak effort against a Spurs defender for a corner which the visitors dealt with comfortably.

Chelsea had two further chances just before the final whistle. First, Leupolz combined with Reiten on the left hand side. The Norway international back heeled a pass to Drew Spence who drove an effort wide. Then, England laid off to Ji who was once more in acres of space. The South Korean sorcerer hit a super effort which narrowly failed to hit the target.

Chelsea’s win was routine in the end, condemning Tottenham to their first defeat under Rehanne Skinner. Their new head coach will no doubt emphasise the importance of taking chances against the very best sides when they come your way.

Teams: CHELSEA: Berger, Mjelde, Bright, Eriksson, Andersson, Leupolz, Ji, Reiten, Kirby, Harder, Kerr. Substitutes: Blundell, Ingle England, Fleming, Spence, Telford (GK), Fox, Beever-Jones.

Scorers: Leupolz 27, pen 63. Harder 29. Kerr 38.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: Mikalsen, Percival, Harrop, Zadorsky, Neville, Kennedy, McManus, Davison, Graham, Addison, Naz. Substitutes: Green, Filbey, Dean, Cho, Quinn, Ayane, Martin, Morgan.

Referee: Sarah Garratt.