Maia scores award
FORMER professional football player Maia Jackman undoubtedly scored big points with her parents when she presented them with her royal honours award for Christmas.
After more than two decades of racking up an impressive portfolio of career highlights, including being the only player in the history of New Zealand football to score hat-tricks in three consecutive international games, the Blockhouse Bay resident has been recognised in the 2013 New Year honours list.
Jackman was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to football, a year after her retirement from the professional game.
‘‘It’s a really great honour, and recognition of not only everything I have done, but also what the people around me and supporting me have done,’’ the 37-year-old says.
Her nomination for the award came from an unlikely source, a Scottish football enthusiast called Gordon Smith who she met at the gym.
‘‘We would chat about football and all things soccer. He wasn’t someone I would expect to nominate me.’’
In mid-December she learned she had been given the honour and soon received it in the post.
She secretly had it framed and wrapped as a festive surprise for her mum, who she says has been key to her success on the soccer field.
‘‘The reaction on her face was awesome – her jaw just dropped.’’
Growing up in Kerikeri, Jackman says she became interested in football around 6 years old.
‘‘We had a big backyard and so my brother, who is four years older than me, always had some of his mates over playing and they just asked me to join in one time. I’m sure it was just so he could bash me but I ended up being quite good,’’ she laughs.
‘‘Mum looked out the window one day and thought I wasn’t doing too bad so they enrolled me in a local club.’’
There were no girls’ football clubs in Kerikeri at the time, so she had to kick off with the boys.
As her strength in the sport grew, so did her parents’ realisation that they needed to do the utmost to encourage their daughter’s future in football.
So in 1991, when Jackman was 15 years old, her family uprooted from Kerikeri and moved to Auckland.
‘‘It was a massive sacrifice for them, which I didn’t quite realise at the time. That’s why I thought it would be appropriate to give them the award.’’
Jackman played for the New Zealand Football Ferns from 1993 until 2011 when she retired.
During her time on the field she scored several awards including winning the MVP trophy for the ASB Women’s Knockout Cup five times.
The trophy is now to be renamed The Maia Jackman Trophy.
But she says the biggest highlight of her career is playing in the FIFA World XI in China in 2007.
She is the only female New Zealand player to have been chosen to play in the one-off game which features in the lead-up to the World Cup. The 11 top players are chosen to play against the World Cup host country for the high profile match.
‘‘It was probably the biggest highlight of my playing career because you are playing with the best of the world and you are seen as one of the best in the world,’’ she says.
‘‘Off the field my biggest highlight would be receiving this award.’’
Final goal: Former Football Fern Maia Jackman has been appointed a Member of The New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2013 New Year honours.
In action: Maia Jackman playing for Fencibles United in 2010.