Keelin Winters might not be a headline name for many but her credentials are exemplary and the inspirational American midfielder is already making her presence felt at Western Sydney Wanderers.
The daughter of a former NBA star, Winters has carved out an impressive resume of her own. She has represented USA U-23s, played for one of Germany’s most successful clubs, and this year captained a star-studded Seattle Reign to their maiden national title (NWSL).
Now Winters is donning the captain’s armband and adding some much-needed experience in a largely youthful Western Sydney Wanderers side, leading by example last Sunday with a two-goal haul in a 5-3 defeat at champions Melbourne Victory.
Have you settled in to your new team?
Everything is going really well so far. There is some good team chemistry. Also we have been getting some players back now, so all the pieces are starting to come together. Losing two matches is not the way we wanted to start the season, but we will be ready to fight on Saturday.
How are you finding it being in such a young team?
It is definitely different to the NWSL where most players are out of college and in their early, mid to late 20s. On our team we have some 16, 17-year-olds. But it is still a competitive group and that is the reason I came… to join a competitive side and I think have got that.
What on-field differences have you noticed between the NWSL and the Westfield W-League?
I think the level in the NWSL is a bit higher. Part of that is due to the age difference, and also the NWSL is a full time job, whereas here it is not a full-time profession. That obviously accounts for some of the differences between the two leagues.
And how have you settled in Sydney off the field?
It has been great living not far from the city in Gladesville near the water. It is not too far from training. We have been to the city a few times and to Bondi yesterday. The lifestyle is great and I’m really enjoying it.
Who is the toughest opponent you have played against?
It is interesting to say perhaps, but I would have to say my team-mate (Seattle Reign and Scotland striker) Kim Little. I train against her every day back home. In my eyes she is the best No10 in the world right now. She is incredible and being able to train against her helps the level of my game.
Which particular player has stood out for you since you arrived?
Lisa De Vanna is always a force to be reckoned with and we played against her the other day. We have only played Canberra and Melbourne so far. Having to deal with the destructive force of Lisa De Vanna is always difficult.
Who is the coolest team-mate at the Wanderers?
I really like (striker) Michelle Carney. She is an older player and an experienced player. She scored the other day against Melbourne, and it just came from hard work, and I really appreciate that. She is a tonne of fun off the field as well so I have really enjoyed getting to know her.