Being the last line between victory and defeat may sound like a heavy burden, but Jemma Bingley is up to the challenge.
The Stanhope Gardens goalkeeper does not look physically imposing but, at 14, she’s already established herself in the under-17s women’s state league.
After just two years playing futsal she’s also earned the chance to compete against some of South America’s future stars.
Jemma started playing club soccer at 11, initially as a defender before trying her hand between the sticks.
“We didn’t have a keeper and dad said he’ll buy me some gloves if I try it for a week,” she said.
“So we bought some gloves and I went in keeper, and I was pretty good at it.”
Within a year Jemma established herself as a young shot stopper to watch in the state league, moving to Mount Druitt Town Rangers and putting her body on the line against older and more experienced players.
“A bit of pressure’s always good,” Jemma said.
“You’re the last man that can save the team and keep [the opposition] from scoring.”
Jemma has also excelled at the smaller version of the sport, not afraid to throw herself around on wooden floors.
While playing for the Western Wolves she was selected for the NSW City West at the AFA National Fustal Championships. From there she was scouted for the Australian under-15s squad.
In November she will be flying to Brazil for a 16-day futsal tour, taking on local schools and clubs.
Jemma said she never expected the opportunity at such a young age, and described it as an “amazing feeling”.
“It’s amazing to think someone has seen me and picked me out, and thought I was good enough to represent Australia,” she said.
“It’ll be a great experience playing in the competition, getting coached by professionals, and meeting teams from all over the world.”
The team will also get to watch a professional Brazilian football match at Mineirao Stadium, where Germany famously humiliated the hosts 7-1 at the 2014 World Cup, and take in the sights at Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer and Copacabana.
Jemma made the move to Hills Sports High School last year, after being encouraged to try out by her coach at Jim Fraser’s International Goalkeepers Academy in Rooty Hill.
She said changing schools has helped her to pursue her dream of playing for the Western Sydney Wanderers and even the Matildas.
Among her schoolmates now is Wanderers and Australian under-17s midfielder Eliza Ammendolia.
“They’re very high on their sport and push you very hard to try and better yourself every day,” she said.
Jemma’s dad Kevin said he is extremely proud of his daughter and her success so far.
“We’re just excited for her to go to Brazil,” he said.
“She works very hard at it and it’s a reward.
“Jemma realises what we’re going to sacrifice as a family to let her go.”
- Jemma’s family have set up a Go Fund Me page to seek financial support for her $8000 Brazil tour.
By Harrison Vesey