Collette McCallum interview: Purple poise and playful deception for Glory captain
Throughout her career, Australia midfielder Collette McCallum’s reputation has been built on left-footed midfield wizardry, but you can add a moniker-worthy liking for music, and even an unintentional ability to fool the media, into the mix for the Perth Glory Women captain.
Back from a knee injury that reduced her participation last season, Collette has skippered a Perth side that has broken numerous records in the seventh edition of the Westfield W-League. After taking 30 points from the 12 regular season fixtures, the Glory claimed their first premiership crown and they head into a semi-final with Sydney FC this Sunday (December 14th).
Collette, 28, is one of the established Australian national team names in the squad and her time in the game up to now has included reaching two FIFA World Cup quarter-finals with the Matildas, also wearing the armband and scoring in the tournament. Those who have played alongside her know all about the assured and creative midfield play she brings, but there is also the personality that counts for a great deal.
Beyond the player who can produce moments of sheer class with that left foot, there is a person who fits perfectly into the music/football concept of this site, as Collette explains.
“It is a big part of my life. Music can change my mood if I am feeling a bit down and I need a pick-up song which might be a great song to sing along to.
“To be honest, I have a crazy mixture of artists and genres of music that I love; from dance/trance, to rock, to soul, to Celtic/Irish music. It depends on what mood I am in.
“Lots of friends say I am a jukebox because I know a lot of songs!”
Winner of the inaugural Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) championship with Sky Blue FC in the U.S. in 2009, Collette also played in England’s FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL) for Lincoln Ladies. She was part of the Matildas team that won the 2010 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, although she was actually born in Scotland before moving to Australia when she was young.
The Matildas were of course coached by a Scot during Tom Sermanni’s distinguished second tenure at the helm, which ended as he took over the U.S. Women’s National Team at the beginning of 2013. Like Collette, he has Glaswegian roots, and despite the respective reputations of player and coach, there was a touch of confusion from some quarters when they gave a press conference once.
Collette, who has crafted her way through many teams, describes how the Scottish tones helped to briefly throw the media, albeit unintentionally!
“A funny time I remember was when Tom Sermanni and myself went to a conference about a Matildas game that was getting played the next day. One of the media guys asked if this was the Australian team!”
Given the name ‘Scossie’ (Scottish Aussie) in her spell at New Jersey-based Sky Blue, Collette has used her accent to comedic effect for her teammates in the past, with one of Robin Williams’ best-loved film characters providing the inspiration.
“There has been a few times where I have had to repeat what I’ve said. The girls used to love hearing me impersonate Mrs. Doubtfire.”
When Kyah Simon’s decisive penalty in the shootout sealed the Asian Cup in May 2010, the Matildas’ celebrations went long into the night. As the team’s former defender Thea Slatyer told in her astounding interview on here last year, the squad (including Collette) took over a pub in Chengdu as they marked the win over North Korea in style.
Without money as a motivating factor, a love for the game and close bonds throughout the team has brought the Matildas together over the years. Many of those players have featured on this site, discussing music’s importance to the teams they have played on, and the first of these was goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri in January 2013.
‘Bubs’ is the first name Collette mentions as she recalls some of the team DJs she has seen in action for club and country.
“There has been a lot! Ones that I can remember are: Melissa Barbieri in the Matildas, Natasha Kai at Sky Blue in America, a mixture of Sophie Barker, Sophie Bradley and Jessica Clarke at Lincoln in England, also Samantha Kerr, Shelina (Zadorsky) and Ella (Mastrantonio) from Perth Glory.
“The best part was that all these girls and other ones love getting up and entertaining by showing some great dance moves. I used to get up and dance as well.”
As the W-League has drawn increasing interest from fans around the world in recent years, the Australian national team has started to become one of the most recognised in the women’s game at international level. However, it is easy to wonder what might have been when looking back at the 2007 World Cup, as Australia contested their final group match, with Canada.
Christine Sinclair’s 85th-minute finish had put Canada into a 2-1 lead and the Matildas were staring at elimination. Deep into injury time, defender and undoubted icon of the sport, Cheryl Salisbury, grabbed a leveller from close range, putting the Aussies into the next round with one of the most crucial goals in the national team’s history.
Despite defeat to Brazil in the quarter-final, the Matildas had changed the way they were looked upon with the progress in that tournament. There was one other Aussie goal in that Canada game of course, and it came via a wonderful free-kick from Collette which set Melissa Barbieri’s arms flailing in unorthodox jubilation!
Before such moments as a full international in the green and gold, Collette was finding her way as a youngster. An All-Star selection at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in 2006, she thinks back to the early days when asked if she has ever given a singing performance in front of teammates in her career.
“I did, with a group of girls in the Young Matildas squad. We had a fun session of games and the team that got the least points had to get in front of everyone and sing a song.
“We sang Spice Girls ‘Stop’ and dressed up as them and also did a few dance moves. It was a good laugh.”
A World Cup quarter-finalist against Sweden in 2011, Collette played the full game in Tianjin four years earlier at the same stage. A defeat to Brazil put an end to their hopes of a semi-final place but it was just the odd goal in five that edged them out.
Forward Lisa De Vanna, interviewed on here in 2013, scored the Matildas’ first before they levelled it up from two goals behind. The scorer of that second goal also happens to be the most memorable of Collette’s career teammates when it comes to singing.
“I would say Lauren Colthorpe; she sung opera in front of all the girls. Her mum is very good as well, so I guess it runs in the family.”
A one-time Pali Blues player in the USL W-League, Collette had U.S. Women’s National Team legend and 301-cap current defender Christie Rampone as her captain and coach when Sky Blue won the WPS Championship game in 2009. She came on for Brazilian international and recent Houston Dash signing, Rosana, as Heather O’Reilly’s goal saw off a Los Angeles Sol team featuring world-class talent such as Marta and Aya Miyama.
Besides the on-field memories, taking in places like New York ensured a wonderful time in the U.S. for Collette, and there is an American link to her musical youth.
“I loved the boybands as a kid! My favourites were Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, oh and also Five, the UK boyband.
“I think I was about ten when I got my first Backstreet Boys single of the song ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)’. They meant a lot to me because I used to love trying to do all the dance moves on the video clips!”
Growing up a Glasgow Celtic fan, when Collette’s path took her back to the UK with Lincoln Ladies in 2012 she was joined by fellow Matilda, Laura Alleway. The current Brisbane Roar defender was Collette’s choice as she pondered which of her fellow players she would select to collaborate on a song with, if given the opportunity.
“I’d say Laura Alleway because she has a great voice and is good on the guitar.”
Female participation in football across Western Australia has been on the rise, and in all sorts of ways, Perth Glory Women have contributed to that growing interest. This has been a sensational season for the team led by ex-Glory (A-League) captain and all-time leading appearance-maker Jamie Harnwell, with records broken left, right and centre.
Scoring a league-record 39 goals, Perth set a new W-League-high of 30 points as they beat Sydney FC 5-0 on November 30th, with a hat-trick from another past site interviewee, Samantha Kerr, included. Besides the 11 strikes from Kerr and 12 from Golden Boot winner Kate Gill, the Glory backline has given up just ten goals.
Glory finished ten points clear of Melbourne Victory (2nd) and Canberra United (3rd) and capped their first premiership crown with a 5-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers in mid-November. Collette struck a brilliant effort into the top corner in that game and she is expected to captain the team this Sunday (December 14th) as they host 2013 W-League winners Sydney at nib Stadium.
Number 14 Collette has had a lot to enjoy with the team in recent months and she has relished the group atmosphere.
“I love the group of girls at Glory this season. All the girls gel so well on and off the field and have a great positive vibe; it makes the environment so much better for us to train and play in.”
The men’s side have topped the A-League in the opening weeks of the season and Collette would like more of the opportunities that have seen Glory Women players promoted alongside their male counterparts.
“The media we are getting at the moment is great, as we are doing so well in the season. It would be good if we had the men and women involved together in more media situations.”
Should the Glory reach their first Grand Final, they will host Canberra United on December 21st, but the ever-dangerous Sam Kerr will be missing as she gets set to spend up to three months recovering from a recent knee injury. Despite the loss of the 21-year-old Matildas star, Jamie Harnwell and his side are confident of continuing their superb form in this Sunday’s semi-final with Sydney. Forward Elisa D’Ovidio will be hoping she can go out on the ultimate W-League high, having announced she will retire at the conclusion of this season.
Aside from doing all she can to lift that trophy later this month, Collette has her ways of unwinding when time allows. She has a fondness for tennis from when she was growing up and she likes to partake in another sport now and again.
“I love spending time with friends and family. One thing I really enjoy is going away with my partner and spending some quality time as I don’t get to see him a lot during season.
“I do play golf when I have free time and I like to head to the beach. I love loads of things and like to keep occupied, so I’m happy with whatever.”
The closing question gets each player interviewed to become fantasy player-manager as they select four of their career teammates to join them in a 5-a-side line-up. Collette has been the midfielder chosen by a number of players on the site in the past so it would not be possible for her to return the favour to each of them!
Described by her former Matildas colleague Thea Slatyer in her interview as ‘a surgeon with a football in the midfield’, Collette introduces her team, and of course, there is a place on the bench for a few others!
“This is a very hard question as there are so many I would pick to play! Can I have two teams?!
“I’d say Lydia Williams as keeper. She has very quick hands and would be great for a 5-a-side.
“In my team, I would love skilful players that bounce the ball off each other really well and that can score loads of goals. So I would have Marianna Tabain and Shannon May because they are great with the ball at their feet.
“I would have (Lisa) De Vanna as she is quick and can score goals.”
To catch each of these interviews, follow me on Twitter @chris_brookes
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