As she prepared for her high school graduation last year, Jade Brown had few hints that the biggest moment in her fledgling football career was about to unfold.
Prior to that moment, Jade had been named in the ACT’s under-18 Schoolgirl’s Football team for the National Schools titles held in Brisbane last September. This was unexpected: she was just 15 at the time.
Without the additional pressure of thinking that she would make the Australian side due to her age, Jade believes that her more relaxed approach during the National Schools titles reflected in her on-field performance.
Following the Nationals, Jade was selected as a shadow player along with three other ACT teammates in the Australian Schoolgirls side for the International Cup to be staged in Dallas in April.
Jade was still coming to terms with her selection, and was about to leave home for her Gold Creek High School Graduation, when she was told that she had been elevated to the Australian team for the Dallas tournament after one of the strikers pulled out.
“It was overwhelming,” recalls Jade. “I burst into tears. It was totally unexpected. Any one of the four ACT players could have been called up but I was fortunate that a player in my position was unavailable and I was able to take her place.”
This was great news to share with her graduating year at Gold Creek.
In many respects, it capped off an incredible time for a 15-year-old who began the season as a Gungahlin United reserve player only to progress through to the Gungahlin United women’s premier league team.
By the end of the season, Jade had played 14 games in the top grade, scoring three goals.
On the back of 2019, she has been promoted to the top 16 squad for the upcoming season. This is a significant achievement for a player who told her mum, Nicole, and dad, Dave, as a six-year-old that she wanted to play football with the Gungahlin under-8 Bumblebees at Harrison.
For the moment, there is little time for reflection with the focus taken up with preparation for the International Cup, which includes a training camp in Florida prior to the tournament.
Selection in the Australian team comes at a cost, though, as players are required to contribute financially to travel and accommodation. As such, Jade is busy raising funds through car washing, as well as a part-time job. It ensures a packed calendar, combining Year 11 at Gungahlin College with training and fundraising.
Although Jade is only at the start of her career as a young football player, she already has a wealth of experience juggling the demands of school, work and sport. But she is learning that goals can be met, far beyond the aspiration of making the under-8s Bumblebee side, but with all aspirations requiring the same determination, hard work and perseverance.