Newcastle Jets co-captain Gema Simon planning to savour this W-League season

EXPERIENCED: Gema Simon is gearing up for her 11th W-League season. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
EXPERIENCED: Gema Simon is gearing up for her 11th W-League season. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Gema Simon plans to play every match this W-League as though it is her last.

The Jets co-captain's career has been plagued by injury and, although she feels "better off" than in previous years, Simon knows her playing days are numbered.

With that in mind, the 29-year-old Matilda will relish each opportunity she gets to lead her home-town team in the upcoming W-League.

The Jets have no big names nor any internationals and will rely heavily on the experience of Simon and other home-grown players in Tara Andrews, Hannah Brewer, Clare Wheeler and Cassidy Davis.

"Last year we had a bit more pressure because we did well the year before," Simon said. "I think teams might overlook us at times and we could use that to our advantage. But I'm happy with the squad and I wouldn't want to be playing anywhere else."

Simon, Davis and Emily van Egmond were co-captains last season. But following van Egmond's departure to Melbourne City, 21-year-old Wheeler has been added to the leadership group.

For Simon, the experienced left-back is more excited than ever for the season ahead, which opens for Newcastle against City at No.2 Sportsground on November 17.

"I feel really good at the moment," Simon said. "I feel mentally refreshed more than anything and I've had a couple of months now to get my body right, so that it holds up for the season."

Simon had an arthroscope and ITB (iliotibial band) release on her left leg after the 2017-18 W-League season to alleviate a chronic complaint but felt she went backwards during the Women's World Cup in France this year where she trained but was not used in any of the Matildas matches.

"With my history of injury, any game could be my last," Simon said.

"My body is probably better off now than what is has been because I know how to look after it better, but my knee is pretty dodgy. There's not much of it left.

"I'm just enjoying football. There's a really good group of girls here; they're so passionate and it's just enjoyable to be around.

"If this is my last season or if I get to play one more I'm glad I get to do it with this group of girls."

Simon and Brewer were part of Newcastle's inaugural squad in 2008. A lot has changed since, including the introduction of a minimum wage for players.

"I just want to be able to set the standard for the girls and to leave the jersey in a better place than what I received it in," Simon said.

"Football in Newcastle has come a long way and conditions have improved in every area. It's nice to see how the game has progressed and the standard progress for the girls and hopefully they don't have to go through some of the hardships we went through to be where we are."

This story Jet ready to savour season first appeared on Newcastle Herald.