If commitment and determination count for anything Perth Glory’s Gabrielle Marzano, who boasts an alternate life as diver in the Australian Army, is set for a long career in football.
Few if any players in Sunday’s Westfield W-League Grand Final between Perth Glory and Canberra United boast a back-story to match that of Marzano.
The Townsville-raised Marzano was an unknown until a few months ago, but sheer-dogged willpower, and more than a dose of talent, saw her earn a contract and significant playing time among Perth Glory’s star-studded roster.
It is the kind of courage and self-discipline that last year saw Marzano the first female to become an Australian Army diver.
Unlike many team-mates who have come through state-based academies or other traditional football development programs, Marzano’s journey to the top was very much the road less travelled.
“I got in contact with Jamie Harnwell back in November last year, I gave him an overview about myself, and told him I was interested in a trial,” Marzano says about the start of her football expedition. “He kept me informed and gave me some good suggestions and what I needed to do reach the level, and I actually sent him a highlights video.
“I trialled over about a week in July, and I think I’m the only person to get in from about 30 attending. I was pretty lucky, and within a month or two I was living here in Perth. I wanted to achieve the dream of playing in the W-League. I’m grateful for how the stars aligned.
“I think the fitness aspect of the army helped me out, in terms of cardio fitness. And definitely the discipline and professionalism of the army has definitely been translatable to the football field.”
“I think now it is a matter of getting my game time up, and playing more alongside these top players,” continued the engaging 22-year-old. “I’m hopeful of coming back and secure a starting position, getting that experience and seeing where it takes me. It has certainly been a tough gig trying to get on the field ahead of the likes of Kate Gill and Sam Kerr, but it has been amazing to be surrounded by so many great players so it means I can only get better.”
Last Sunday Marzano, a forward by trade, scored the sealing goal in the 3-0 win over Sydney FC, her first in the Westfield W-League. And the subsequent celebration provided evidence of Marzano’s popularity within the Glory ranks. Leading the charge were her “foreign legion” room-mates, Canadian Shelina Zadorsky and Canberran Bronwyn Studman.
“I can’t speak highly enough of this team, everyone gets along so well. That translates onto the field, and I think that shows.
“I was so excited, it was probably the easiest goal I will score. But like Kate Gill said ‘a goal is a goal’.
Now one final hurdle must be cleared to complete a remarkable breakthrough season at the top level, as Canberra stand in the way of the Glory’s maiden title.
“It has been a great week, and to be part of a Grand Final will be amazing. Though I’m not looking forward to next week when everyone goes home.
“I think it will be a really good game. Canberra have been very competitive with us.
“The Perth Glory A-League team and fan group have really been getting behind it, and I think there will be a really good crowd.
Indeed the biggest crowd ever seen in Perth for a women’s football match is expected, and Marzano’s greater family will be making a more than adequate contribution, with father Francesco hiring a bus to lead a contingent of 25 on the 150km journey up the coast from Bunbury and Hervey.
“They were there on Sunday for the semi and loved it. My dad is the biggest fan of the team, which is really cute.”
Catch all the Grand Final action Live nationally at 3.00pm Sunday (broadcast commences at midday in WA) on ABC TV, or catch up from Monday on ABC iView with a full replay each Tuesday at 3.30am.