Not Always As Planned: Jazmin Wardlow’s Soccer Journey Across 3 Continents

Andrea Staccioli/Insidefoto/Imago

Jazmin Wardlow, the former Houston Dash and Fiorentina defender, joined Footwork to talk about her new contract with Central Coast Mariners and the journey that prepared her for this moment.

Every week, Dylan and Sean at Footwork Podcast bring you original interviews from players and coaches making their own path around the world. Below we have a short excerpt from their latest podcast guest Jazmin Wardlow. You can find the full interview on your preferred streaming platform here (Footwork Podcast)

For those of us who have played this game around the world, we’ve all at some point reflected on this one thought:

“Wow, this is not how I thought my career would go.”

It’s easy to set a target for yourself. To map it all out and create the scenario of a fulfilling, drama-less, road to success without so much of a hiccup.

But that’s not the reality of it. Players are rarely on a consistent climb. Most of us take falls and climb back up only to fall again. ‘The Plan’ essentially changes at every glance.

“I never expected my professional career to look how it did,” remarks the defender.

After a successful collegiate career at Santa Monica and Oregon respectively, Jazmin Wardlow (formerly Jazmin Jackmon) entered the 2019 NWSL draft where she was chosen 21st overall by the Houston Dash.

NWSL is seen as the pinnacle of women’s soccer to many, so when a contract didn’t come for quite some time, despite getting drafted, Jazmin began to take stock.

Once she finally was offered a contract, it was time for her next hurdle. A lack of playing time.

Why couldn’t her career go like so many she had known? So many colleagues made a statement in their first season and rode the NWSL wave for years to come.

You have to play the cards that are dealt to you in the end. But Jazmin’s next hand showed the Champions League. And so she jumped.

To Serbia of all places, with FK Spartak Subotica, where she witnessed a varying degree in level and off-the-field politics.

On paper, the Serbian outfit and the Champions League looked like a great opportunity and a stepping stone to continue the journey, hopefully in a stronger European league.

And it did in fact. But before the next payoff, she was just looking to get her paycheck.

Imagine working your 9-5 job and at the end of the year, you check your bank account to see a large chunk missing. Now picture asking for that deserved money repeatedly to no avail.

SaraxEsposito/Sports Press Photo/Imago

It just doesn’t seem plausible. But many of us players have experienced it or know someone who experienced it.

But Jazmin continued to demand what was hers and rightfully so. So many of us can feel reluctant to ask for money, and especially without an agent, Jaz felt that same reluctance at times.

But she knew her worth, and so she filed a claim with FIFA against her former club, which resulted in her full reimbursement.

“It was never about the money. I knew in my heart and in my spirit, that was not okay,” Jazmin reveals. “I did not want any other women’s players, especially going overseas to Europe, to experience not getting paid.”

You can be sure that the former Oregon Duck didn’t expect that to occur in her first European experience. Nor did it make it easier when she compared her road map to those she broke into the NWSL with.

“I’m looking at all my friends playing here or there and not really anywhere in Eastern Europe,” admits the defender. “And that comparison stole the joy out of the game a little bit.”

Fiorentina presented a new opportunity in one of the sports meccas.

Still growing in Italy however, the women’s section left a lot to be desired and although she had a successful season, she was ready for something new again.

Present day on our video call, as she spots a rabbit (a rare species in her home state of California), she seems both excited for her newest opportunity in New South Wales, Australia, and grateful for the unexpected road behind her.

“I wouldn’t be who I am today without experiencing what I’ve gone through,” Jazmin declares.

It’s been merely days after signing her first A-League contract with the new Women’s expansion team of the Central Coast Mariners, and you can see just how much it means to her.

They present an opportunity that had been lacking from her last adventures. An emerging club who is investing in the Women’s team, and showing that both teams are on even playing fields.

And even playing in the same stadium, something quite rare in most clubs.

An opportunity to play in her favored position, enjoy an amazing Australian coastal culture, live in the same country as her husband (who is a professional basketball player in Melbourne), and help take the sport to new levels for females.

“It’s the perfect time to be here,” admits the defender. “Playing in the A-league, coming off the momentum of the World Cup being here. The investment that’s being made. I’m excited”

Would she have ended up in Australia without the obstacles of all her former contracts? It’s possible.

But would she be as grateful, experienced, and ready for this new Australian opportunity without them?

That, we highly doubt.

Find the full podcast episode here: 1:27 If You Do What You Love, You Can’t Lose with Jazmin Wardlow

Exit mobile version