Emily van Egmond is one part of a highly-promising, young Australian contingent, with a stirring soundtrack right among the midfielder’s personal essentials.
Daughter of Gary van Egmond, Newcastle Jets’ A-League-winning head coach, Emily has been making her own way in the Westfield W-League since its inception in 2008. Currently a Jets player herself, the 19-year-old already has overseas club experiences to her name, with leading Danish club Fortuna Hjørring, as well as Western New York Flash.
She celebrated Women’s Premier Soccer League Elite success with the Flash last July, netting the penultimate penalty as they defeated Chicago Red Stars. The second Australia player on this site in quick succession, following goalkeeper and captain Melissa Barbieri, Emily is another who vibes off an uplifting pre-game atmosphere behind the scenes.
“(Music) has played a huge part; there is nothing worse than being in a change room with no music being played. The last tournament we had with the Matildas, in China, Tameka Butt was on iPod duties, but it changes from time to time.”
When she pulls on the Jets jersey, Emily is turning out for her local side. On the international front, meanwhile, the Newcastle native already has a piece of history to her name.
In the 2011 World Cup, she became the youngest Australian to score on such a stage, putting the Matildas into a 2-1 lead in the group game against Equatorial Guinea in Bochum, while still nine days short of her 18th birthday. Making her senior debut against North Korea in 2010, she is glad to find herself among a group that shares a strong connection, with no musical renegades to rock the boat!
“Everyone in the national team has decent music, so I can’t really single anyone out for having the worst, but Sam Kerr has good taste in music! My favourite artists would have to be Chris Brown and Justin Bieber.
“I listen to r&b before playing games. Drake, Kanye West and Red Hot Chili Peppers are also my favourites to listen to.”
Turning back the clock, a compilation ranks as the earliest music she owned.
“The first CD I ever bought was So Fresh; I was like 12 when I bought it.”
As far as live experiences, she highlights a local gathering that gets underway again in April this year.
“I have been to a festival in Newcastle called ‘Groovin’ the Moo’ that was pretty cool. I also went to ‘Shore Thing’ and saw Calvin Harris and Snoop Dogg live, so that was awesome!”
The widespread singing initiation in football has so far yet to reach her, but she did witness one of her Stateside teammates, a Jamaican international, giving a memorable display.
“I have never had to sing in front of teammates, touch wood! (The most memorable was) Omolyn Davis from Western New York Flash; when we were on a long bus ride home, she put on a good performance to a Chris Brown song, it was very entertaining.”
Emily’s father was also an Australian international, featuring at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games as they reached the quarter-finals. In recent weeks, he has surpassed 100 games in charge of the Jets.
Drawing on his professional experience has been advantageous for Emily, who also played for the boys’ teams until she was 15.
“Dad’s always busy with his team, but when he can, he comes to some of my games, which is nice. He has been a massive influence on my career; we still go out and do some sessions together when he has time, so I really appreciate having that opportunity.”
Enjoying the attacking midfield role the most, Emily shares some of her favourite players to watch at present.
“The players I most aspire to would have to be (Lionel) Messi, (Andrés) Iniesta and David Silva. I love watching the men play and those three stand out for me, in terms of the position I play.”
Legendary former Matildas defender Cheryl Salisbury was also a notable influence when growing up, while former coach Tom Sermanni likened Emily to Joanne Peters when first calling her up in 2009. Her development had an important boost with the taste of a professional environment she received at Western New York, heightening her fitness in the process.
Now back home with the Jets, she recently scored in a 2-2 draw with Perth Glory. The W-League season draws to a close this weekend as the team host Melbourne Victory at Wanderers Oval, Broadmeadow.
“I’m enjoying my time with the Newcastle Jets. We were lucky to bring out three American players, and two of them from Western New York Flash: Angela Salem and Tori Huster, who I played with last year.
“The girls played really well against Perth, and I was just happy to get a goal for the team. I like playing for the Jets because it’s my home town and my family is here.
“The Newcastle area is amazing; it doesn’t get much better than Newcastle! We have so many nice beaches, cafés, the ocean baths.
“We have Lake Macquarie, which is also great, especially if you have a boat or jet ski, it can be a lot of fun. It’s a laid-back kind of town and I love it!”
The issue of progress in the women’s game is a gradually-increasing talking point. Emily gives her view on the current state of play for a sport capturing more and more players and supporters.
“The game is continually growing and improving. The progression is due to a number of things.
“I don’t think the game will ever go backwards. That being said, there is always room for improvement.
“Ultimately, we see the stability and the treatment of the men’s game, and that’s the standard we would love to reach. I am encouraged by the number of fans and supporters we get to our games.”
As she finishes with the regular closing question – four current or former teammates to join her in a fantasy 5-a-side team – she has some legendary company to call upon.
“My 5-a-side team would have to start with Brittany Cameron from Western New York Flash – great goalkeeper. Defender: Cheryl Salisbury, ex-captain of the Matildas.
“Midfielder: Joey Peters, ex-Matildas vice-captain, and striker Lisa De Vanna. I played with Cheryl and Joey for the Jets in ‘08 and Lisa De Vanna I currently play with in the Matildas.
“Cheryl’s presence and experience were great for me as a young player coming through. Joey was both-footed and knew the game.
“Lisa with her pace up front, and she scored one of the best goals I have seen in women’s football when we played the USA last year In LA. It was such a good goal; she out-ran Christie Rampone from the USA from half-way and scored into the top corner.
“It was unbelievable.”