• Jayden J Bartlett

Cairo Coventry - Jet

As far as surnames go, there are few that demand as much attention as Coventry, especially within Victoria and of course, within the Collingwood Football Club.

83 years since the legendary Gordon Coventry hung up his boots, there is now another Coventry on the rise in Western Australia.

And while she may not be directly related to Gordon, Cairo Coventry is certainly carving a promising football path of her own.

Before we get caught up with just how much Cairo, or Jet as she is known on the footy field, has managed to achieve during her football career, it is best to hear the story of how she got into football to begin with.

‘So, when I was in year five I had never held a football in my life. I decided to take on the primary school challenge called the long bomb competition. On the day, I kicked 29 metres and realised I had something special and I needed to take advantage of it.

‘My dad then took me to the finals at the old Subiaco Oval that is now gone. I failed my first two kicks, both being 15 metres. Then I did a huge torpedo out of nowhere, and that’s where I won with a 30-metre kick. From that day, my dad decided to start training with me. At one point we lost our house and became homeless, so we stopped for a couple of years.’

Then, ‘when I reached year seven, there was a notice on my school page about girls footy. I was really late to see it and a teacher named Zoe Hugget said they already had a team. She said, “if you can kick this footy far enough I’ll try and find you a spot”.

‘So, I went to the gym with her and kicked it from one end to the other and got a spot immediately. From there, I went to the school games Without my parents and told them when I got home I won a footy. They said, “what the whole team?” And I said “no, just me”. My dad then told me I had won Best on Ground and then we signed me up to East Freo and now here I am.

‘If it wasn’t for Zoe Hugget letting me play I don’t think I would be playing footy at such a high level like I do now. I actually started playing with her when I moved to East Freo and got lots of tips.’

Cairo joined the East Fremantle Football Club at the age of 13, before moving to her current team, the South Fremantle Bulldogs, when she turned 15.

And she says that her time with the Bulldogs ‘has been incredible’.

‘They are very supportive and give me freedom to roam the ground from the midfield. All the teammates are always supportive when girls get injured and we always share ideas on how to improve. We let the girls who haven’t really played the game have a chance to play where they would like.’

Equally as incredible as her time with the Bulldogs, is the amount that Cairo has managed to achieve in her last four years of footy.

With her first major achievement coming in 2014, when she won the Long Bomb Champion of WA award thanks to her 29.6 metre kick, which is rather remarkable considering she was just 11 years old at the time.

Her development was then fast tracked, thanks to the time that she spent training with her brother’s team, the South Coogee Junior Football Club.

And this extra work spent training with boys that were a lot older than her paid off, when in 2018 she was selected into Western Australia’s U15s State team.

However, it took a lot of hard work for Cairo to make the team, hence why it was ‘a dream come true’ for her.

‘I had waited so long for the moment. I tried out in 2017 actually, I was overweight and not good enough yet, luckily picked as a train on.

‘From then I decided to try out again the following year. So, I ended up dropping 14kg and making it in 2018 after improving my running and strength. I cried in school when I found out.’

Hearing about the extra work she put in to make that side and improving so much in just a short space of time; shows just how passionate and dedicated Cairo is about her footy.

And this passion is also shared by her father.

‘That is one of the reasons I play and try my hardest, so I can earn money and help him since he’s been through a lot being homeless.

‘We are all he has and without me playing footy he says he wouldn’t know what to do with his life. So, my goal is to make it, and kick a goal on the Coventry end for my father.’

But this is far from her only achievements, as she was a member of the U16s and then the U18s AFL Academy, and she also played in the Medleys AFL team in 2019.

2019 also saw her travel to the Gold Coast to be a part of the Diversity All Stars Leadership camp, and she also earned a spot in the Dockers Development squad.

But there is still one more achievement yet to be mention and it is one of the most impressive and intriguing ones that we have heard on Minutes with Moose.

This achievement being the fact that she was the Captain of and Best on Ground for the Wanderers Australia football team, when they played against St Bridgets LGFA in Ireland, 2019. Likewise, she was also awarded the Most Consistent Player of the Wanderers team in Ireland, England and France.

Unfortunately, every career has its downs and for Cairo, hers came very recently.

‘I tore my left ACL completely, partially tore my MCL (grade 1 tear) and tore my meniscus left root all in one go at South Fremantle bulldogs home ground in 2019.’

Then in 2020, ‘I had my left root meniscus repaired again due to me being part of the 15 per cent where it doesn’t hold. But I’m back on the road to recovery and will be back better than ever’.

But while rehab can be difficult at times and it can be frustrating watching from the sidelines, with the cancellations due to the Coronavirus, there is not much of an alternative anymore.

‘At the beginning yes but not so much anymore. At the beginning it was hard because everyone was still playing football but now due to Coronavirus nobody is, so I feel like I’m not missing out.’

So, what is next for this promising Western Australian prospect?

Well off the field she is aiming to study PE Studies, while on it, she is hoping to, among other things, win a Premiership, kick a goal at the Coventry end, and become a leader.

Becoming a leader is something that Cairo is actually rather experienced at, as she ‘was chosen for a leadership program with Mindy Simpson’.

But at the end of the day, it is only a matter of time before we see another Coventry kicking goals on the national stage.

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Article #118

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