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ALW: Maitland to host ‘Mindy’ Barbieri’s magical milestone

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No matter what happens this weekend, Maitland will always hold a special place in MelindaJ “Mindy” Barbieri’s heart.

The Newcastle Jets midfielder is set to celebrate a major milestone, her 100th A-League Women’s (ALW) appearance, when she runs onto the Regional Sportsground on Saturday 17 February.

It’s a phenomenal effort for a player just 23 years of age.

She made her debut, at 17, with the Melbourne Victory, then linked up with Adelaide United before joining the Hunter club at the start of 2023/24.

MelindaJ “Mindy” Barbieri will celebrate a major milestone against the Brisbane Roar.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t actually know it was my 100th,” Barbieri said.

“I think that’s probably a good thing.

“But, it’s now made me look back and reflect.

“I’m definitely appreciative of the former clubs that I was at (Melbourne and Adelaide).

“However, to be able to achieve it with such a special team, and with such a special organisation like the Jets, it means a lot.

“I guess I’m still a little bit speechless about it because I didn’t think I’d reach it so early in my career.

“It’s certainly a privilege.

“I’m excited to jump on the field… but, the goal at the end of the day, whether it’s a milestone or not, is to win.”

Barbieri still recalls her first outing, as a teen, against the Perth Glory in October 2015.

“Funny enough, I remember running on for about 10 seconds – and that was it,” she said.

“But, it’s all part of the process, especially as a young player starting in the A-League.

“Now, I’m established and, hopefully, spreading my level of experience into the side as much as possible.

“Even though I am still young, to reach 100 games in this competition, it’s quite difficult… and it takes such a long time.

“I’m probably seen as one of the leaders on and off the field these days, which I’m comfortable with.

“However, as far as I see it, everyone has that role.

“That’s 20 leaders, plus the staff as well.”

To be able to achieve it with such a special team, and with such a special organisation like the Jets, it means a lot.

MelindaJ Barbieri

Newcastle suffered a setback in the previous round, losing 2-1 to the Western Sydney Wanderers at Bathurst.

What stood out from that performance was the number of shots the Jets had… without success.

“I wouldn’t say anything really went ‘so wrong’,” Barbieri told the Newcastle Weekly.

“There were a lot of positives to take from it.

“Sometimes the ball just doesn’t go in or it’s a near miss or it’s hitting the crossbar or whatnot.

“It wasn’t our day.

“But, from an execution point, that’s an area we need to improve.

“We had a lot of chances… we just couldn’t finish.

“I can understand people thinking we’d be frustrated.

“However, the vibe in the team is not that at all.

“We’re constantly looking at the positives.

“We generally thought the Western Sydney match was probably one of our better performances in 2023/24.

“So, we’re looking to ride on that momentum because even though it was a defeat, it was only a 2-1 loss.

“We’re aware every game is going to count for us now; we’ve reached a crucial stage of the season.

“Obviously, it was a tough result; however, to play in front of almost 4,000 fans was absolutely incredible.

“We could feel the atmosphere there.”

MelindaJ Barbieri is looking forward to playing an ALW game at Maitland this weekend. Photo: Rod Thompson

Although Newcastle only sits three points outside the top six, in eighth spot, Barbieri knows 10th placed Brisbane will be tough to beat.

“We met them in Unite Round in Sydney, which meant it was a level playing field,” she said.

“This time we’re facing them in Maitland so, for us, we have high hopes there’ll be a massive crowd there to cheer us on.

“We had an open training session at the Regional Sportsground a couple of weeks ago… and a lot of people turned up.

“It was great to see them support the Jets, from the young fans to even the older ones, which was nice.

“Even though we’ll rise to the challenge, with Maitland being our ‘home away from home’, we need to execute everything and meet the Roar on the front foot.

“So, after last week’s encounter, we are looking to jump into Brisbane and pretty much finish what we started (against the Wanderers).

“We’re just excited to play at Maitland as well.

“Because we’re a Hunter club, not solely a Newcastle one.

“I think the most important thing is to continue to build and establish that relationship with Maitland.

“It could progress into something greater in the future.”

The fixture kicks off at 5pm.

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