Missing Family Means Much To Inspirational Soccer Mum
by Jeremy Ruane
photo courtesy NZ Soccer
Kelly Jarden is not your run-of-the-mill womenís soccer international by any stretch of the imagination. The uncompromising SWANZ defender takes no prisoners on the park at the best of times, but outside the match environment, two special people are uppermost in her thoughts.
"They donít want me to go, but they want me to play for New Zealand", says the Cantabrian of her pride and joy, as she prepared to head off to Texas and Canberra with her SWANZ team-mates.
"Itís quite hard being away from them for, in this case, a month", says solo mother of two Kelly. "Having to find alternative arrangements for their care is a chore - letting the school know is top of the list, and then you have to think about things like whoís going to look after them after school, whoís going to take them to softball Ö all the sorts of things you just do without thinking suddenly have to be thought about!
"Then, of course, you have to stress to them the need to behave while mumís away!! Iím very fortunate in that I have a very supportive family who donít hesitate to help out when the need arises".
This tour marked the first occasion when Kellyís heroes saw their mum off at the airport as part of the squadís farewell party. "When I was first selected for New Zealand", says the nine-times-capped Jarden, "it was for the 1997 tri-series against Australia and China. For a then-four-year-old child, it was quite hard to take in - neither of them really understood what was going on.
"Six months later, the SWANZ headed off on the Championsí Tour to Germany (the European champions) and the USA (the
Olympic champions). It took me a day to get over leaving them then.
"Thatís the worst part of the deal when youíre on the road - absolutely missing them, and they me at the same time", says the doting mum, who was not selected for the SWANZ last internationals, the Pacific Cup tournament in June, 2000.
Missing out deeply hurt the Kiwi pride boasted in abundance by the attractive twenty-nine-year-old, who went about making absolutely certain that when the next SWANZ squad which would step onto the international stage was announced, she would be right back in the frame, and her form such that it effectively demanded that she be included.
"I was delighted to make the squad this time round. Iíve had to work quite hard over the last two years to get back in, so much so that Iím fitter now than I was for the qualifiers in October 1998!
"Iíve been doing lots of three kilometre runs, but Iíve had a hamstring problem now for the best part of a year which has restricted some aspects of my training. Iíve undergone a course of injections in an attempt to overcome it, so hopefully they will do the trick".
The battle-hardened Nomads United defender, who is keen to have a good time on this tour, and enjoy every aspect of it, is, like all her team-mates, "hoping to make the starting line-up when it counts in Canberra, and hoping to make the Womenís World Cup Finals beyond that - Iím not ready to give up yet! No way!!"
Sheís also relishing the chance of proudly sporting the white jersey with the silver fern upon her chest once more, as the SWANZ edge ever closer to recording their one hundredth international appearance.
A couple of youngsters are delighted she has the opportunity to do so, too, despite the thousands of miles which, for the month-long duration of the tour, will separate them from Kelly Jarden, their inspirational soccer mum.
In full flight against Cook Islands in Canberra