Evelyn Chronis is one of the success stories of the 2020/21 W-League season, even before a ball has been kicked.
After nearly 15 years in the NPLW junior and senior system, Chronis has finally earned her first W-League contract, signing with Newcastle Jets for the upcoming season.
Starting out in the under 14s at St George, a club famous for producing past Matilda stars, the now 28-year-old will finally get to play on a stage that only last year looked beyond her wildest dreams.
“Playing in the W-League has been a goal of mine for a long time, so I’m feeling incredibly grateful for the opportunity to represent the Jets this upcoming season,” admits Chronis. “I’m excited for the opportunity and looking forward to the season and overall experience.”
Chronis will be an important player in coach Ash Wilson’s plans, as a young Jets team aims to compete with the country’s best in what will be a crucial season as Australia prepares for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
The gun striker netted 24 goals in 12 games for the North Shore Mariners in the NSW NPLW2 competition this year, winning the NPLW2 Golden Boot and the League Player of the Year awards as the Mariners clinched the League/Grand Final double.
In 2018 Chronis played for the Illawarra Stingrays, a club known as a breeding ground for W-League stars, scoring 12 goals in 23 games. From 2015 to 2017 she was at Sydney University - another well known nursery for the country’s elite woman footballers - where she won back to back NPLW titles in 2015 and 2016.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing though for the Sydney University honours graduate. She actually took the 2019 season off, admitting she needed to give herself a physical and mental break from the game.
“I had my first season off ever! I really needed a break, mentally and physically and it worked," she revealed.
"It helped me realise how much I love the game and missed it. It reinvigorated me and recharged the batteries.”
The move paid rich dividends, with a refreshed Chronis having a bumper year with the Mariners, ending with her biggest reward yet.
She admits her 2020 season with the Mariners has filled her with confidence as she prepares for an opportunity that she could have been forgiven for thinking had passed her by.
“We had a really successful season with the North Shore Mariners, having won the club championship, premiership and championship," said Chronis.
“Despite the disruptions, it was probably one of my most enjoyable seasons!
"It was a really great team environment where we were all committed to the same goal, plus I found the back of the net a few times which is always nice and helped me build my confidence each week.”
Chronis insists her Jets team-mates are ready to go for the season ahead despite the turmoil faced by the club off the field. She says the ladies are simply ready to play.
“We’ve had a really great pre-season so far and have been preparing really well," she said. "There are a lot of new players in the team so we’re all getting to know each other/each other’s style of play, and have been gelling really well.
“It’s been tough, as pre-seasons always are, so we’re all excited to finally get out on the pitch and kick-off the season!”
As a reminder of the sacrifice and challenges faced by women footballers, Chronis juggles a full-time job while trying to establish her professional football career. She is grateful though she has been able to find a balance between her day job and her football.
She added: “I wear a Project Marketing Manager hat during my 9-5, where I’m responsible for the marketing of new residential developments around Australia.
“I’m really fortunate I’ve worked for companies that have been so flexible and supportive of my football career to allow me to balance both passions.”
The Jets tackle Western Sydney at the Wanderers Centre of Football on January 2 in their season opener.