Jasmine Pereira has brought her own style to the football game and her approach to life.
Called up to the Football Ferns at just 19, Jasmine already has 10 international caps. She's represented New Zealand in the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in 2014 and the Under-17 World Cup in 2012. Her talents were further recognised when she received a Prime Minister’s Athlete Scholarship from High Performance Sport New Zealand to help her study towards a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.
Jasmine says she was hooked on football from the first time she played.
“There’s so much opportunity to bring your personality and showcase the kind of player you are. I’m not that stereotypical skinny soccer player. I’m a strong robust player and I use that to my advantage. I’m not really the tricky type, I’m more straightforward, I get the ball and use my strength and my pace. I’m a relentless aggressive player.”
Jasmine had previously played and excelled in a range of sports, but found soccer was the sport she was prepared to fully commit to when she started playing six years ago.
“Soccer is something I absolutely fell in love with, so I gave it my all and doors just kept opening for me. I was going full force and when I finally got to my first World Cup I thought, wow did I really just do all that?
“I know what I want. Mum’s always said if you’re going to do something you need to do it full-heartedly. I’ll do everything I can to make it happen.”
She says she tries to stay confident when times are tough.
“There came a point when I had to work a lot harder and do things that didn’t come easily. Then I realised you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. If I wasted those opportunities I wouldn’t get to where I wanted to be.
“When I was picked for the Football Ferns I said yes. Then I thought, what am I doing? I’m just getting over injuries, I’m not fit. As a team we really push each other to be better players, so it was hard. But I just had to get straight in to it.
“At times like that you really have to believe in yourself. Some people think that’s cocky, but there’s a difference between being cocky and confident.”
She says support from family and mentors helps her keep her focus and positive attitude.
Jasmine’s dad Joseph, who played rugby league for Sydney’s Wests Tigers when he was younger, was Jasmine’s biggest fan. He died after fighting bowel cancer and Jasmine says making him proud gives her extra motivation.
“Everyone in the family was playing rugby, so when I started playing football it was very different having a little soccer player in the family. But they totally got behind me and learned all about it.
“Joe and Rene have all this experience acting and directing and people know who they are, so they have always been there to bring me back off the horse.”
Rugby league star Ruben Wiki is also a friend and mentor.
“He’s a massive support because he’s been through that high level sport. He helps me make the right decisions and makes sure I’m looking after myself. He’s such a role model for me.”
“When I first started playing football I was the only Islander playing. I loved being different. I love being the complete opposite or the odd one out. I just want to score amazing goals and be the best in the world.”