Newcastle Jets fans might have noticed six-year-old fan Brinley Gentle, who wears her Kyah Simon Westfield Matildas outfit (replete with a cape) to Westfield W-League games, and who also sports a banner that reads ‘When I grow up, I wanna be a Jet’...
Newcastle Jets fans might have noticed six-year-old fan Brinley Gentle, who wears her Kyah Simon Westfield Matildas outfit (replete with a cape) to Westfield W-League games, and who also sports a banner that reads ‘When I grow up, I wanna be a Jet-. Meeting Brinley and her mum, Sarah, was incredibly inspiring for Girls FC, who were stoked to discover that they come from a family who live, breathe, and regularly give back to football. Brinley hopes to grow up to be a Newcastle Jet and Westfield Matilda and we, frankly, can-t wait to cheer her on. In the interim, though, her mum Sarah explained in her own words how Brinley (and this whole amazing family) got into football:
My husband and I played our first game of football together in the same team before we even started dating. We were in our late teens/early 20s. I thought it would be cool to start a new sport and my husband was nagged by his mates...needless to say it didn-t take long for us to see why so many people love and play football all around the world.
We went on to run our church's local football club in the NNSW churches soccer competition. When I fell pregnant with our son we had two guys- and one girls- team in the local comp. Our son went to his first game at three weeks of age when his dad was in the grand final! So our daughter was born into this newfound ‘love- we had discovered.
We started taking Brinley to Jets games when she was just two. Even then, she would watch the whole first half before we had to pull out the portable DVD player for her to watch Dora. Then by about 3 ½ she was watching the whole game...she loved it! We got to know some of the players and in particular, Tarek Elrich. Our son had a banner that said: When I grow up I wanna be a Jet. All the players signed it for him the year they won the championship. After that there was no turning back!
Brin just loves it. Tarek signs her forehead every time he sees her...it's just her thing. Last year when the World Cup was on she watched a few games with us, but this year when the Women's World Cup was on she stepped up another level. Through Twitter we got connected to Bill Drossos (who is a legend for the girls game, might I just add). He began following me and watched me tweet about my daughter's passion for football. He even arranged to get a FourFourTwo Matildas cover and team photo from the AFC signed by Kyah Simon to Brinley and posted these to us.
Well that was it! From there we were setting alarms and watching all the games—not bad for a six-year-old. I still remember her sitting on the lounge in her Matildas- outfit at 2am rocking back and forth. When I asked her if she needed to go to the toilet (she quite obviously needed to go), she turned to me and said ‘No, I don-t want to miss any of the game!- She watched every game of the Women-s World Cup dressed in her outfit with her scarf around her neck cheering for the girls.
This season she started football in U6s for the South Wallsend Wolves in Newcastle. Southy decided to put an all-girls U6s team into the local small-sided competition. Every week they played against boy teams and lost all but one of their games, beating Newcastle Grammar 4-1. But for me the real highlight was watching my little girl smash through each team in her first season and finish with 42 goals under her belt! She won her team's Best & Fairest award and has built a bit of a name for herself. She even has some other boys- teams looking to 'recruit' her for the 2012 season!
When the Newcastle Jets W-League team recruited players like Bubs, De Vanna, and Van Egmond that Brinley had been watching in the Women-s World Cup, she was pumped. Although we had been to a few W-League games before, she was younger and the excitement around the game (particularly in Newy) just wasn-t there. In fact, membership to the boys- games didn-t include W-League games and the W-League girls had to pay for entry into the boys- games—it was terrible!
Prior to the first girls- game of the season, Brin asked me to make her a banner. She said she wanted it to say: When I grow up I wanna be a Jet (just like her big brother-s). Stoked at her enthusiasm and passion I was happy to oblige! I also found some royal blue sequin material and made her a cape (she thinks she super girl—we never let her think anything else). In the process of making her cape, I managed to bust my sewing machine! She turned up to the game in her Kyah Simon outfit with a red headband, Jets cape, and proudly holding her banner above her head.
Needless to say she was a hit with fellow fans and the players, who all stuck around after the game to sign team photos and merchandise. Bubs pulled her over the fence and had a photo with her on the field and Ariane ‘Berlin- Hingst jumped in on photos as well. Brin-s banner has now been signed by all playing and coaching staff of the Jets W-League team. Some of the players asked her to get your mum to make us a cape like that. Last week we made capes with ‘Bubs 1- and ‘Berlin 17- on them, which we will give to them at the end of the season.
Last week Brin took her banner and cape to school and showed everyone for news and as a result 1/3 of her class went to the game last weekend. She has a massive photo wall in her room with multiple action shots of Bubs, Kyah, & De Vanna and counted sleeps until she met her football heroine Kyah last weekend at the Jets v Sydney match.
Kyah told her to come play for Sydney, but Brin was adamant that she would stick with the Jets. Ariane gave her the captain-s armband to wear and tried to convince Brin that she should be her favourite Jets player, especially as she wears the same number as Kyah. But Brin was unconvinced. Brin also won the half-time penalty shootout, beating players more than twice her age. She will now get to be the Jets- mascot and walk out with them on the pitch at their next home game.
Brin is a sporty kid who has already tried several sports (ballet, jazz, touch football, swimming), but nothing drives her like football. Even now, in the off-season, she has just started playing indoor soccer against nine-year-old boys. Last school holidays she completed her first football clinic at the Jets girls- home ground—she loved every minute of it!
We love football. It's our family passion. It's how we've met other families with the same love for the round ball and it's what draws us together. In fact, when the W-League Jets are at home, we have three other families who go to the games with us then come back to our house for a BBQ to watch the A-League game and play football in the driveway. We were also picked to represent Jets fans at the club-s membership launch at the beginning of the season.
The Jets players are sensational. They are devoted to their profession and their fans. They always have time for the kids (and their parents) and show us all so much respect. They are rarely in trouble and are inspiring role models. They are responsible for inspiring kids like ours throughout this nation. Publicity for football is the highest it-s ever been, but it's the players who have people coming back every week and who make juniors like Brin to want to be Jets!
Check out the photo gallery of Brin and her favourite players, and keep your eyes peeled for Brin as the Jets- mascot at their next home game in Round 6 on 26 November.