Soccerscene is committed to promoting, enhancing and growing the soccer industry in Australia. We believe soccer news has captured the attention of grassroots soccer clubs, apparel and equipment suppliers – which extends to governing bodies, club administrators and industry decision makers.
Kate Jacewicz announced as AFF Referee of the Year (Women)
Leading Australian referee Kate Jacewicz has been honoured by being named the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Referee of the Year for women.
It was announced recently at the gala AFF Awards held at Hanoi in Vietnam.
Jacewicz received this award off the back of another tremendous year with the whistle, including officiating her ninth Westfield W-League Grand FInal in February 2019 between Sydney FC and Perth Glory.
Jacewicz has been recognised as the W-League referee of the year seven times and part of the 75 match officials around the world who refereed at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
It’s added to her impressive list of career achievements which also includes her making history by becoming the first female to occupy a spot on the A-League Referees Panel, helping out with both A-League and W-League matches.
In a statement by Football Federation Australia and chair of FFA Referees committee Chris Nikou, they congratulated Jacewicz on her significant achievement and her professionalism she continually shows.
“Kate is one of the world’s finest referees and thoroughly deserves this award. Whatever the game, whatever the level, she is a model of consistency and class,” Nikou said.
“Her work on the pitch is a reminder to us all just how vital referees are to the lifeblood and well-being of our game.”
Steve Corica is Head Coach of A-League Men at Sydney FC, where he narrowly missed out on three A-League Championships in a row, losing to Melbourne City in the Grand Final last season. What a remarkable start to his first senior head coaching role!
He played his junior football in Innisfail in North Queensland, before heading to the Australian Institute of Sport and playing just under 500 professional games in Australia, England and Japan.
Steve’s preparation for coaching began while he was playing, and he started to gain his coaching licences before taking on an assistant role with the Sydney FC Youth Team.
He served a seven-year apprenticeship at Sydney with the Youth Team and then as an assistant to Vitezslav Lavicka, Frank Farina and Graham Arnold before taking on the Head Coach role in 2018. He learned from each of these coaches and also learned, like most ‘he didn’t know, what he didn’t know’ when taking on the Head Coaching Role.
Steve believes that team and club culture are key to success. He understands that while he is the driver of the culture, that buy-in from all of the players is integral to behaviours being demanded from the playing group of one another.
Steve’s ‘one piece of wisdom’ was ‘to be yourself’. Know how you want to play, the style of football you want to play. Be strong when you do get setbacks, but believe in what you’re doing, stay strong and keep believing in the style of football you want to play.
Donna Johnson started Zena Sport with the aim of protecting women athletes in high-impact sports. With the help of her husband, former AFL footballer and Western Bulldogs captain Brad Johnson, Zena Sport is changing the way female athletes look at injury prevention.
Their Female Impact protection garment, known as the Zena Z1 performance vest, offers support and impact protection, while also giving compression for enhanced post-game recovery.
The impact vest isn’t visible under a jersey or shirt while being lightweight and breathable without restricting a player’s movement, weighing only 160 grams.
Donna came up with the idea after after she watched a local women’s AFL game, with plans to continue expanding the product line after their initial success.
“My wife Donna was at a local game with her best friend who had a couple of daughters playing, and one of them came off that game with a big knock to the breast,” Brad said.
“We thought is there anything to help these girls during that development phase of life? That’s how the conversation started with us, and we continued to explore it.”
After discovering there wasn’t a large body of research in the area of injuries specific to women’s athletes, Zena Sport conducted their own.
“We worked with Deakin University in that process, and there were a lot of things to tick off,” Brad Johnson said.
“We went through their Centre of Sports Research, and the vest has been validated to show it absorbs a high level of contact.”
The AFLW embraced the impact vests, and now Zena Sport is expanding into other sports.
“The last 18 months we’ve been going flat out, AFLW was our first port of call but Melissa Barbieri jumped onboard quickly and she loves wearing it in goal,” Donna said.
“Soccer is one sport that the vest has been well received, and the feedback has been great so we want to push it even further and harder through the soccer world.”
Melissa Barbieri, a former Matilda’s goalkeeper, had an early opportunity to test the vest out before launch.
“Once I tried it I felt that little more protected in collisions, and as a goalkeeper hitting the ground and the ball hitting your chest,” Barbieri said.
“I have some breast cancer in the family, so I wanted to protect myself as much as possible, so it was a welcome revelation.”
Barbieri, who played 86 times for Australia, values the product as perfect for women goalkeepers who need extra safety during games.
“First and foremost I feel it gives you compression, which is always good for recovery, but it also gives you an extra layer of protection from any hits you might have via the ground, opposition coming in or friendly fire,” she said.
“Certainly when you are in a one-on-one predicament in a game, coming out and spreading yourself with as much width as possible and not protecting yourself in the chest area, it’s perfect for feeling that little bit of extra protection.”
Brad Johnson is the Western Bulldogs’ all-time appearance holder in the AFL, and his own experiences in professional sports influenced the design of the vest.
“It was always wait until you are injured, and then protect it to return to play. In that regard, I wore a rib-guard in the final few years of playing, under my jumper without anyone knowing, and away I went,” he said.
“So from that I was keen to add that element to it which has become a really popular part of the vest.”
For Barbieri, the impact vest not only offers her safety and confidence on the field, but she also believes in the company behind the product.
“Supporting someone who is so passionate about female athletes is really great to see, and it’s a homegrown family company, so I want to get behind them as much as much as possible,” she said.
Zena Sport is providing women and girls the opportunity to play contact sport to their full potential while raising awareness about the need to protect themselves from injury.