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Jane Carpenter’s still kicking goals for Swansea Football Club

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They say the Matildas’ successful run in the FIFA Women’s World Cup will inspire a new generation of young players.

But, in Lake Macquarie, Jane Carpenter is already doing that.

The flying winger, who’s set to celebrate her 65th birthday this weekend, will line-up for the Swansea Football Club’s over-30 interdistrict team in its preliminary final on Monday 21 August.

Swansea Football Club’s Jane Carpenter at her homeground Chapman Oval. Photo: Rod Thompson

However, she admitted Australia’s national side had provided a massive injection of interest in the round ball code, especially for female athletes.

“It’s been phenomenal the way the Matildas have been embraced by the entire country,” Carpenter said.

“I mean, I love playing… I’ve loved playing for a long time.

“That’s why I’m still running on the field at this great age.

“But, for the kids coming through to see that [level of] support and everyone getting behind football, particularly the women’s game, it’s great.

“I think they’ll leave a strong legacy for the future.

“And, we’ll notice the flow-on effect locally, too.

“I believe the people who were wavering on what they should do, whether it be netball or football, they’ll probably opt for the latter.

“We’ve got a very strong female participation rate at the Swans, about 44%, however I’m sure we’ll receive more registrations next season.

“The Swansea [organisation] is exceptionally supportive of women and locals know that.

“So, hopefully, we won’t run out of fields at Chapman Oval.”

For the kids coming through to see that [level of] support and everyone getting behind football, particularly the women’s game, it’s great

Jane Carpenter

The Matildas’ semi-final showdown with the Lionesses garnered a staggering 11.5 million viewers across Australia this week, surpassing the Socceroos’ most-watched fixture at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar by a significant margin.

For the UK-born Carpenter, she was in a “win-win” or “can’t lose” situation.

“A great game, a great atmosphere,” she said.

“It was fantastic that some, like Sam Kerr, managed to get a goal, which pleased the big crowd.

“However, I think the better team won, but that’s football.

“I turn 65 on Sunday (20 August) and I’ll be watching England take on Spain in the final at Accor Stadium.

“Honestly, I can’t wait.”

Afterwards, Carpenter will turn her attention to her beloved Swans.

Macquarie Football launched the 10-side competition in 2023, to appeal to an older demographic, with Swansea, Kotara South FC (two sides), Stockton JSC, Nelson Bay FC, Lochinvar Rovers FC, Medowie FC, Kotara South FC, Tilligerry UFC, Garden Suburb and Adamstown JFC the inaugural participants.

And, the local outfit heads into the play-offs as favourites.

“I did say last season I’d play all-age however I then changed my mind because I can’t run against 18-year-olds anymore,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“But, the association brought in an over-30’s format for the first time.

“It’s been hugely successful, too, as everyone loves it.

Jane Carpenter will join her Swansea Football Club team-mates in the finals of the over-30 women’s competition. Photo: Rod Thompson

“As for Swansea, we finished top of the table, so we especially love the concept.

“The girls are now gearing up for the semis, which start next week.

“It looks as though the grand final will be at Chapman Oval, so we’ve got an added incentive to be in it.”

Carpenter’s also keen for the powers-that-be to expand the playing model to include older age divisions.

“In Sydney, they stage an over-45 women’s competition, so I think the same will happen here given time,” she said.

“I may not be as fast as I used to be but I’m still up to it.

“Part of it is to stay fit, however I like the whole team atmosphere as well.

“I do parkrun on a Saturday, so I don’t collapse on the field on a Monday night,” she added with a laugh.

“The entire environment around the side and the players, it’s terrific.

“Everyone’s supportive of everybody, on off the field.

“If someone’s got a problem, we’re all there for them.”

Surprisingly, Carpenter’s career only kicked into gear two decades ago.

“When I was growing up in England, girls played hockey, boys played football,” she said.

“So, that’s what I did.

“Then we came to Australia and one of my daughters played.

“I was watching her game one day and they said: ‘we’re forming a mum’s team, would you like to join?’

“So, I was in my 40s when I started.

“And, I’ve played every season since… apart from when I had back surgery.

“I’m not ready to give it up anytime soon either.

“My daughter’s now over 30, so I’d like to play with her and also my granddaughter, who I’m hoping will join Swansea next year as well.

“It would be great if we can do it.”

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