Captain Casey to steer Southern north

Casey Aarons. Photo: Mark Avellino Photography

CASEY Aarons has played competitive football for over a decade, and for the most part, team success has followed her.

But for the 20-year-old nursing student, pulling on Southern United FC’s royal blue, fuchsia and white has presented her with a unique challenge.

Established in 2015 and incorporating the Casey, Greater Frankston and Mornington areas, Southern United’s initiation to National Premier League Women’s Victoria (NPLW VIC) has been far from breezy, the team finishing bottom in two of its three seasons with an overall winning percentage of just 28.2.

The NPLW VIC competition is home to a number of top current and former W-League players and youth internationals, who Southern, unlike their rivals, don’t have the resources to obtain.

With the season kicking off this weekend, Aarons, who is entering her third campaign in the NPLW and second with Southern, was shocked but honoured to be appointed club captain.

“It’s a huge honour and privilege to get such recognition within the club and the league,” Aarons told The AJN.

And as for the on-field challenges, and bouncing back from a winless 2018, Aarons is attacking it with a refreshing dose of positivity.

“Heading into 2019 we hope to change this [winning drought] of course, we have lots of new players with different abilities and a fresh mindset for the season ahead.”

The attacking midfielder is excited by the added responsibility her new leadership position will bring, and even before a ball is kicked, is set on the type of captain she intends to be.

“I see myself being a positive and encouraging captain,” she said. “I intend to push my team through losses and wins. If we lose a game we take the positives from it and learn for the next game.”

Being a young captain, Aarons is all about learning from those above her and building strong relationships with the club’s youthful core, who she says, “need people to look up to and talk to at the club,” as “football involves lots of commitment and can be very mentally and physically tough at times”.

Personally, Aarons played all bar one game in her debut season for Southern’s senior side in 2018, scoring one of the club’s five goals in a campaign that yielded a staggering goal difference of -183.

Reflecting on the challenges that the senior side faced in 2018, Aarons said, “A winless season was difficult but opponents like Lisa De Vanna and many Victory/City players made it a good challenge. We all enjoyed what we were doing so it wasn’t too difficult to bounce back, towards the end of the season we saw better results.”

Aarons’ competitive footballing journey kicked off at the age of nine with North Caulfield Maccabi FC, where she enjoyed four seasons alongside her friends, but at the age of 13, she broke the mould moving to South Melbourne FC in the search of a more professional environment.

And that bold decision paid off in spades, with the talented playmaker playing above her age group for five years, culminating in a Women’s Premier League championship in 2014.

Her elite mindset took her to Alamein FC in 2016, where she played 24 games and scored four times in the opening 10 games of the season for the club’s U18s, while juggling year 12. Before jetting off for four months in 2017, she linked up with State League 1 club Casey Comets, before returning to the NPLW in 2018.

Aarons attributes most of her football knowledge and inspiration to her first coach at South Melbourne, Stacy Christakakis.

“My aspiration in soccer is to keep playing at a high level where I’m constantly being challenged and pushed, while ensuring I’m still enjoying every aspect of it.”

Southern United kick off their 2019 campaign at home on Saturday against last year’s runners up, South Melbourne.

AARON FETTER