UCOL Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science graduate Jane Barnett never expected that her career goal of working with elite athletes would culminate in her becoming one herself.
Jane says being selected as a member of the New Zealand Football Ferns
squad is a dream come true and has combined all her passions.
The 24 year old says she is ‘blown away’ to be now training and touring with the players she regarded as her idols as she worked her way up through age group and senior rep soccer teams.
Throughout her UCOL studies she was playing in her favoured striker position for the local Womens A (Massey University) and National Womens League for Central. The year she graduated, she was invited to Auckland to trial for the Football Ferns.
“I thought I’d give it a crack,” she says. “I felt quite relaxed about it and figured I had nothing to lose.”
She scored a hat trick and impressed the selectors so much, the national coach suggested she plan her move from her home town Palmerston North to join the training squad in Auckland.
Settling in to a new city was just one challenge for Jane. The weekly training regime proved brutal. “We train five days a week, plus a league game and two gym sessions on top of that.”
The squad trains in Albany, north of Auckland where the Football Ferns Development Programme (FFDP) is based.
Jane is a member of the wider training squad and although she is yet to debut for the Football Ferns, she played for New Zealand A against Thailand late last year.
Despite training really hard, she missed selection for the Olympic Games team, but was ecstatic to be picked for the recent tour to the USA. The tour was a build-up for the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Jane says the experience of being in America, warming up with her heroes in a packed stadium of 30,000 spectators, competing against the three-time FIFA World Cup Champions USA women’s team was awe-inspiring. “I had to keep telling myself – this is real!!”
Her next objective is to ‘get off the bench’ and become a regular team selection. “It’s very stressful every time the squad is named, not knowing if you are going to be on the list.”
Jane has put her UCOL Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science qualification to good use at the YMCA in Massey where she works as a Fitness Trainer. The 5.30am to noon shift fits in well with her training schedule and gives her the chance to put her degree to work.
Jane admits she has had to sacrifice a stable sports science career path while pursuing her footballing dreams.
“It has been tough physically, mentally and emotionally but it has been a really rich experience. I have learnt a lot about myself.”