Young Australia forward Samantha Kerr has been pushing the limits so far in 2013, shining among distinguished company for Western New York Flash. As she continues to thrive, the teenage talent carries reminders of her native environment in all she does.
A huge reason behind Sydney FC’s W-League success in January, the former Perth Glory youngster took a significant step when joining 2011 Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) champions Western New York Flash this season. With the new National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) into its fourth month, the 19-year-old is making an impact alongside such stars as teammate and current FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, Abby Wambach.
The Western Australian National Training Centre product has been embracing the opportunity, but being over 11,000 miles from home at a young age brings its obvious challenges.
“I’m enjoying the football, but I will proudly say I love my country and nothing compares to Australia!” she says. “America is similar, but I could never live here long term.”
“It’s a nice country, though, just different to home. I miss my dog, family and friends.
“I also hate missing out on parties and things that a normal 19-year-old does, but it’s all worth it.”
Since winning her first cap for Australia back in 2009, against Italy at the age of just 15, Sam has stuck around, with regular observers in little doubt about her ability. Her three goals and three assists for the Rochester-based Flash have been notable contributions, as the 2012 WPSL Elite champions hold 4th place at present under coach Aaran Lines.
While getting to spark that essential connection with teammates on the field since she arrived, Sam has been feeling a touch out of step in the sound stakes!
“Everyone here likes music but it’s very different taste to mine. They listen to a lot of Drake; I like Drake, rap and r&b, and I don’t know how to explain it, but their music is a lot more…gangster?!”
In the interviews on here, it is always the aim to appreciate how music in football holds much stronger significance than just existing to fill the background noise in a changing room before the game. For Sam, it serves an uplifting and also nostalgic purpose, despite her young age.
“Music is massive for me; I get really excited to go to a festival and it’s my favourite part of the year, festival season. Before a game, I play music that I would dance at a festival to and have so much fun; in Australia, we would all dance to this type of music before a game!
“One of my favourites is ‘Rattle’ by the Bingo Players.”
Sam’s close friends, fellow NWSL players, and teammates with Sydney FC and the national team, Caitlin Foord (Sky Blue FC) and Kyah Simon (Boston Breakers) have mentioned their mutual liking for a certain genre in their interviews on here. Sam, whose power, guile and goals were key in Sydney’s W-League success this year, explains how she shares her friends’ appreciation for the sound style in question.
“My favourite music is definitely house music, but I do enjoy all types of music; anything with a good beat. One of my favourite house songs is ‘Greyhound’ by Swedish House Mafia.
“I’ve seen nearly every DJ that has been to Australia because I do not miss a festival; I normally go in Perth and then again in Sydney. My favourite acts I’ve seen have been Skrillex, Swedish House Mafia and Avicii; also Dizzee Rascal, but he’s hip-hop.”
The first CD she ever bought, however, as well as what she thinks to one of captain McCall Zerboni’s playlist choices, shows that her pop side lives on.
“I can’t remember (my first CD) but probably Spice Girls or Jesse McCartney. McCall picks our music, but her iPod is just on shuffle; a bit of the Biebs (Justin Bieber) on there, which I don’t mind a bit of!”
Sam’s November 2009 strike for Perth Glory may have come in a 5-2 defeat at Sydney, but it won the 16-year-old the W-League Goal of the Year. There was team success to revel in when the Matildas lifted the 2010 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, with Sam scoring the first goal against North Korea in the final in Chengdu, China (a 1-1 draw before a 5-4 win on penalties).
Part of their progression to the 2011 World Cup quarter-final in Germany, she is becoming one of Australia’s most recognisable characters on the field, returning in emphatic fashion from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). She would score nine goals in 12 matches (11 starts) as Sydney found their way through disjointed form to make the Grand Final against Melbourne Victory.
Alen Stajcic’s side triumphed 3-1 at AAMI Park in Melbourne, with the Sky Blues’ second arriving via a precise Kyah Simon cross and diving header from Sam. The back-flip celebration that followed was just as impressive.
Sharing in the glory that day, although not as a starter, was a player Sam mentioned when discussing the initiation ritual used by various teams across the game.
“I’ve never had to sing in front of anyone; that ain’t my thing anyway, so I’m glad! My goalkeeper from my Sydney team, Sian McLaren, is an amazing singer; I could listen to her all day on her guitar.”
Having the opportunity to play at the highest level at such a young age appears to be reaping rewards. The awareness when running at opponents is a notable asset, and although her stats back up the assertion that she is much more than just a decoy, the pressure she alleviates from teammates by drawing in multiple opponents is invaluable.
Telling how she does not feel at her best on the field when thinking too much, she is keen not to overanalyse her performances since moving to the U.S. She does, however, note the difference in status and schedule she is currently enjoying.
“I don’t like to look at my own game, once it’s over it’s gone, but I’ve been having lots of fun! I’m just going to say the professionalism (is the main difference); this is our job over here.”
Despite her growing reputation, just like her aforementioned friend Caitlin Foord, she is just a teenager beneath it all. Away from working opposition defences, she names her main interests in life at present.
“I enjoy going to festivals and going to the beach with my dog. I enjoy going out to eat with friends and just hanging out.
“I have just started studying business, so I want to finish that. I also really want to go to Tomorrowland (dance-music festival) in Belgium; a lot of my friends are going this year and I can’t, but next year I really want to go!”
A football force in the making, here is Sam’s selection for the regular final question: four current or former teammates she would have alongside her in a 5-a-side line-up.
“Striker: Abby Wambach – not only is Abby a great player, she is an awesome leader. When I play with her, I just want to work hard; not many people make me feel like that.
“Midfield: Collette McCallum. As a wide striker, I have never received a more perfect ball from anyone; I still am amazed by her skill and how smart she is tactically.
“Defender: Elise Kellond-Knight or Caitlin Foord. Elise is the defender that I can never get past ever; a lot of fun to train with and very good!
“Caitlin, because last season we had a lot of fun and success playing in the same side throughout the W-League; I play well with people I get along with well! Goalkeeper: Bri Davey – I just trust having Bri as my keeper!
“She blocks everything that comes at her and very rarely has a bad day!”