Wearing number 3 for Newcastle Jets Women is Elizabeth (Liz) O’Reilly.
Returning to the Westfield W-League after a five-year hiatus where she played football in America, Liz is glad to be back and playing in her homeland.
“It was awesome playing in America, but it’s always great to come and play at home where you are surrounded by your family and friends,” she said.
Born and raised in Penrith, Liz began kicking the football about at the age of four with her local team, the St Mary’s Crocodiles.
At the age of sixteen, Liz was selected for the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) and played predominately against males, which tested her speed, strength and accuracy as a player.
She remained with NSWIS for two years and in her time with the academy attended many Young Matildas camps.
“After a few [of the Young Matildas] camps they were cutting players and unfortunately I was one of them, but getting cut from the Young Matildas lead me to another path,” she explained.Embed from Getty Images
O’Reilly began her Westfield W-League career in 2008 with Central Coast Mariners in their inaugural season alongside Jets forward Jenna Kingsley.
She stayed on with the Mariners for the following season, however, did not resume playing in the Westfield W-League after the Mariners announced their exit from the competition.
In that time Liz was offered a football scholarship at the University of Wyoming in America.
In 2010, Liz moved to America on a scholarship where she played for the University of Wyoming and undertook a Bachelor of Arts & a Social Science degree.
“My time in America was unbelievable, I think by far it was one of the best experiences of my life,” she said.
“Unfortunately the saying ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ is true and I did miss my family.”
“But I was able to get a fancy and expensive degree and I got treated like a professional soccer player and student.”
“It was amazing and I recommend it to anyone who is 17 and is unsure on what they want to do with their life.”
Deciding to make an official return to the Westfield W-League this year, O’Reilly trialled for the Jets and secured her contract for the 2016/17 season.
In the eyes of her coach, Craig Deans, Liz “started the season very well” especially since “she is new to the centre back position”.
“I thought it was important for Liz to play the first few games so that she could adjust to the position and to the standard of the (Westfield) W-League. She has a good attitude and wants to learn more,” Deans said.
Since returning to the Westfield W-League, Liz has taken up a new position of centre-back but her willingness to learn has seen her take to this position very naturally.
OFF THE FIELD:
Away from the field, Liz is a veterinary nurse! “A vet nurse isn’t just one job, you have several jobs in one day. I could be a cleaner, nurse, dentist, radiologist, counsellor and much more in just one day!” she explains. When Liz isn’t at work she loves to take her “dog to the beach or taking him on adventures and looking for waterfalls.”