Maia scores award

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By DANIELLE STREET

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.’’

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

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.

Photo: SHANE WENZLICK

In ac­tion: Maia Jack­man play­ing for Fen­ci­bles United in 2010.

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