Pereira’s Rio dream be­gins

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - HUGH COLLINS

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.

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