Pereira’s Rio dream begins
The female brand of football is improving, Football Fern Jasmine Pereira says.
The 20-year-old Three Kings United player and national representative is in Brazil for the Ferns’ 2016 Olympic campaign.
‘‘I think the women’s game in general is improving to become more technical than it used to be, definitely,’’ Pereira says.
Yesterday morning the Ferns kicked off their medal quest against the number one ranked United States in the city of Belo Horizonte.
Pereira says the squad has been calm ahead of challenging pool matches which also includes world number 3 France.
‘‘The build up to get here was definitely the hard part now it’s just executing all that we have done prior,’’ the West Auckland resident says.
‘‘For us as a team our goal is to win gold, this has been the goal for a long time now and we have been striving to get ourselves in a position to do so.’’
First picking up the game at 13, Pereira began as a goalkeeper but eventually moved to striker.
‘‘What has kept me going over the years is the new challenges, new experience and new teams I have been involved in.’’
Friend and fellow Three Kings United player Martine Puketapu says in the past two years Pereira has worked relentlessly towards her goals.
‘‘She’s just getting the best out of herself…everyone’s determined to be the best they can be but she just tries to be the best on and off the pitch.
‘‘She works so hard with all aspects, her fitness, her strength, her skills with the football..... in the past year she’s just gone uphill.’’
Puketapu has played with Pereira in the New Zealand under-20 and under-17 squads.
Three Kings United women’s premier coach Alan Hindson describes Pereira as being ‘‘very fast and very strong’’.
Before the start of Rio 2016 she had 18 caps with the Football Ferns. This includes their 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup campaign in Canada.
With this experience Pereira’s learned one trick to cool the anxiety. ’’My biggest thing is listening to music, music always calms my nerves.’’ Unfortunately the Football Ferns couldn’t match the prowess of the United States falling 2-0 in their opening game yesterday.
Despite showing resilience the 17th ranked Ferns couldn’t compete with the sheer boot strength of the American side.
Pereira eventually came on as a substitute in the 83rd minute. Former Three Kings players Sarah Gregorius, captain Abby Erceg, Betsy Hassett and Annalie Longo are also in the squad. They now face Columbia on Sunday morning New Zealand time.
Jasmine Pereira got her first Olympic minutes against the United States yesterday.