INSPIRING FOOTBALL STORIES

To recognise the wonderful achievements of our Women’s Football program at Avalon we told stories of some inspirational members of our community in the lead up to the 2018 edition of Super Sunday.

The Club Star

As our weekend of celebration draws to a close we would be remiss to not mention the female behind the scenes who is the epitome of Avalon Soccer Club dedication – Blair McEwan.

Blair has dedicated countless hours every day over many weeks organising and scheduling to ensure our Super Sunday was an event to remember. She worked closely with the MWFA which resulted in 19 x female games being played at home. She was the author and creativity behind the wonderful Facebook inspirational stories on our GK’s, Referees, Mothers/Daughters, Sisters and Dual registered players.

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Blair was instrumental in the successful roll-out of our Buddy/Mentor program where our Senior Female Players mentor and assist in the coaching of our younger female teams to provide the link across all levels of football.

Blair also manages and plays in the WAL1/WPL team and is a member of the Executive Committee where she performs her role as Competition Secretary to an exemplary standard.

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Blair was awarded MWFA Female ClubPerson of the Year and AVSC ClubPerson of the Year in 2017.

Blair McEwan we celebrate you and we thank you. You are an inspiration to us all.

Sister Act

Fun fact – of our 456 registered female players for the 2018 season, we have over seventy sets of sisters playing, five of which have three girls playing for the Club!

One group which is filled with sisters is the Avalon WAL1/WPL. WAL1 Coach and Senior Women’s VP Kerry McEwan says it makes doing the ID checks fairly amusing for opposition managers.

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In WAL1 there are three McEwans (Ashley, Blair and Eliza), two Joneses (Courtney and Chelsea) and two Shepherds (Annie and Xanthe) on the card. Most of these girls now live out of area, but love coming back on the weekend to play for their hometown club and catch up with each other (and occasionally their parents). WAL1 also boasts super-mums Lyndal Carruthers and Naomi Woods, whose daughters play in W16 & W18 (making them helpfully eligible for borrowing…)

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Add WPL into the mix and you have the amazing Bates girls (Kirra and Elyce – daughters of WPL Coach Larry) as well as Zara Harrison and Maeve Gerathy who, together with WAL1 striker Ella Smith have talented little sisters (Lexi – W16, Ana – W13 and Ciara – W16) coming up the Avalon ranks.

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With genes like these, no wonder we have so many successful Avalon girls teams!

Weekend Warriors

Did you know that at Avalon SC we have a whopping 26 girls who play the “double-header” every week in both a Saturday mixed and Sunday women’s team in 2018? Add in State Cup commitments, night games and multiple training sessions and you get a whole lot of football! But these girls wouldn’t have it any other way.

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One such player is Ava Roberts, who plays for two successful Avalon teams – the U12/1s and the W13/1As. Ava lives and breathes football and dreams of one day playing for the Matildas like her hero Lisa de Vanna.

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Ava loves plays soccer because she gets to play with some of her best friends – Jazzie and Frankie on Sundays and Kai and her older brother Jack on Saturdays. Last season Ava was a member of the W12/1 team that won the premiership and grand final as well as of the mixed U13/4 team that were minor premiers and grand final runners up.

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She has some amazing coaches in Matt Brennan, Chris/Sarah Chisman-Duffy and fellow defender Imogen Carlisle from WPL (our 2018 W13/1A team “buddy”) who Ava really looks up to.

The Family

Avalon SC, like many local clubs, is built on community and family. And in the case of our women’s teams, we mean that quite literally. Over the years we have been graced with some truly wonderful mother/daughter pairs (and trios) across the Club who have helped grow and shape women’s football at Avalon SC into what it is today. Today we are going to feature some of the extraordinary mothers and daughters both playing for Avalon in the 2018 season.

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Jacqui Green (WAL1) and mother Carol Forlonge (WAL3) started together in 2004 for Avalon W12 and W35. Now both playing for senior Avalon teams they love it when the fixtures line up so that they can support (heckle) each other from the sidelines.

First timer footballer Sarah Chisman-Duffy (WAL3) spent many seasons on the sidelines watching her kids, including daughter Ives (W13/1A) before deciding to give it a go herself and register with Avalon in 2018.

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Amie Stylianou (WAL3) returned to football in 2018 after a 27 year hiatus to join teenaged daughter Saskia (W16/1A) in Avalon red. Another player keeping her kid her toes is Jean Walsh (WAL3) whose daughter Keira (W15/1) has played for Avalon since U6s!

Cindy Papallo (WAL4) returned to the Club in 2018 after a break in order to join her amazing mum Sue Papallo (WAL3) in her 23rd consecutive season with Avalon (having not missed one since 1996).

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Avalon rising stars Mia (U7), Sophie (W14/1), Tara (W18/1) and Alicia (W16/1A) were each inspired to play by their incredible mums – Junior VP Sharon Burton (WAL3), former Senior Women’s VP Sonya Armitstead (WAL3), Club VP Naomi Woods and “CCC” coach extraordinaire Lyndal Carruthers. Each of these women have dedicated countless hours to the service of Avalon Soccer Club and we are so lucky to have them both on and off the field.

The Keepers

Playing in goal can be a tough gig and requires fantastic skill, coordination and mental resilience. Here at Avalon SC we have a number of specialist female goalkeepers that work hard week in and week out to hone their craft and do their best to achieve that magic number – “0” goals against.

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Kenya (W18/1) is an exceptional female goalkeeper. Last year she was the recipient of the prestigious Avalon Goalkeeper of the Year award. This season she is regularly playing two games on Sunday – W18/1 followed by WAL1 in order to challenge herself and get used to senior football. Both teams love Kenya for her mad skills in goal and because she is an absolute delight to have on the field.

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Imogen (W13/1B) also loves playing in goal. She was player of the match in her game last weekend saving numerous shots including a penalty! She explains that “on the field you tend to get caught up in the speed of the moment when the ball is at your feet but as goalie I get to see the whole field and play and therefore can help position my team mates”. Her mother is also a goalkeeper, which inspired Imogen to follow in her footsteps. Imogen’s advice to girls thinking about playing keeper: don’t be scared, do it! It’s just as important a role as striker.

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Arielle (W16/1A) enjoys the challenge of the unexpected and being the last player between the opposition and the goal. She has an amazing attitude and ability to direct play from the box, which combined with safe hands and composure under pressure make her an asset to this high performing team. Arielle’s words of wisdom to fellow keepers: don’t be discouraged if you let a goal in – the best goalkeepers let goals in – it’s how you come back on the next attempt.

Cath Tucker

Cath was born with Cystic Fibrosis, but isn’t letting that stop her from taking part in the game she loves. Cath starting playing soccer at school, meeting our Club VP Naomi Woods on the field when she was just 20. Despite significant medical limitations, Cath continued to play soccer over the years whilst raising her two sons. She reunited with Naomi years later who introduced her to the women of Avalon SC. In 2014/2015 Cath played with the Avalon WAL3s as well as taking part in four Pan-Pacific Masters Games (under the guidance of coach and Avalon Pres JK). 


In 2016 her health deteriorated to critical, requiring a double lung transplant last year. We are so thrilled to now welcome Cath back to the Club. She took the field last week for the first time post-transplant to roaring applause. We look forward to seeing her in Avalon Red week after week, enjoying the game. She’s a true inspiration to all players and a shining example of the role team sport can play in building community and supporting wellbeing.

Lara Haygarth

While many of her friends are working in retail, babysitting or making coffees, Lara from our incredibly successful W16/1A team has found an awesome part time job that lets her spend time running around outside and watching football (very, very closely). Lara is one of a small group of female referees in the Manly Warringah Football Referees Association and she loves her job. Lara has been refereeing for around 2 years in both the winter full field competition and the small sided (SSG) competition in the off-season. Roving Avalon SC reporter and W16 Team Manager extraordinaire Trudy caught up with Lara to ask a couple of questions about her experience as a referee:

Q: What is the best thing about refereeing?
A: It’s a really fun activity that I get to do, it’s great to encourage and teach younger kids in soccer as well.

Q: What is the hardest part?
A: The hardest part is dealing with argumentative people, both players and supporters.

Q: What advice would you give to other girls thinking of becoming referees?
A: I definitely think it’s great for girls to get into refereeing, it builds confidence and independence which I think are really important for girls to have.

We are very proud of Lara putting her excellent football brain to good use in becoming a referee. We encourage our club members of all ages and genders to consider becoming an accredited referee for the 2019 season and to remember on game day (players and supporters alike) that refs are there to do a very important and at times challenging job. Respect and support your referees and get on with the game!

Danielle Pearce

Day 3 of our countdown to Super Sunday. Danielle Pearce, co-captain of Avalon WPL is an elite player for whom football created an opportunity to live and study overseas. Dani starting playing in 2000 as an Avalon U9.

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She continued with the Club for three seasons before going on to play representative football as a “Manly Warringah Dolphin” (Manly United FC) including taking out a state championship. After finishing her secondary studies at Barrenjoey High School in 2009, football took Dani over to the US, where she spent four years playing for Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree Dani eventually returned to Australia and home to Avalon SC.

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Over the past three seasons Dani has been instrumental in building our WPL both on and off the field to become the highly successful unit that they are now. Her on field chat and calm presence in the centre has lead WPL to take out three consecutive MWFA Challenge Cup titles and the 2017 MWFA WPL Grand Final. Currently studying to become a paramedic Dani gives back to the Club as one of our senior “team buddies” taking on a mentor role to help transition W18 players into senior football.