Two W-League veterans re-signed with the Western Sydney Wanderers. During the 2021-22 W-League season they will once again hope to combat fires on and off the pitch.
The W-League has come a long way since its 2008-09 season. Playing standards and salaries have steadily increased every year, improving player's experience and sustainability on and off the field.
However, with the current length of the twelve regular season schedule, the W League is not long enough to be a full time job. Some players attend school and institutions of higher education during the offseason. Others head abroad during the offseason to keep playing professionally.
Those who remain in Australia outside of school have second jobs during the offseason, with some also continuing their employment during the W-League's playing months.
Two of those players have taken an interesting secondary career. Alongside their time playing for the Western Sydney Wanderer, Caitlin Cooper and Erica Halloway also work at Fire and Rescue New South Wales.
Both women are fully trained firefighters, Cooper works as a firefighter in a Sydney station while Halloway started a training and assessment role at Fire and Rescue NWS's academy as of last March, after a number of years working as a station firefighter.
Cooper stated that Halloway was part of the reason she originally decided to take up this as a career path nearly three years ago. She had to wait nearly four years before being accepted though.
Halloway for her part decided to make the transition to firefighting after a number of years being a teacher. It was this teaching experience that saw her make a second transition to the academy earlier this year.
Cooper specified how satisfying it was to help the community. Halloway echoed this feeling about being able to help out, even in the smallest slightest way, on the worst day of people's life.
The parallels to football were also echoed. Speaking of her experience in firefighting and football Halloway told the W-League.
"It is an easy crossover between a team sport like football and the fire brigade, it is very team orientated and I love that. It why I play a team sport as well as this job as well."
"They are like your family really, you are with them a lot, a lot of hours in the day. You are doing some pretty dangerous stuff at times. You want to know that you trust the person next to you and that is kinda the same thing on a football field as well."
Halloway, a one club woman, has played for the Wanderers since 2015-16. Her previous two seasons were curtailed, due to an ACL tear picked up in February 2020, which delayed her 2020-21 W-League season start.
She will be hoping to once again be a regular starter, something she had been consistent at prior the the knee injury. The Dubbo born player is known for her versatility, having played as full back, winger and in attack for the Wanderers.
Cooper is a fourteen year W-League veteran. She has played with the Central Coast Mariners, Canberra United and Sydney FC. This will be her eight season with the Wanderers.
A central defender, she also served as co-captain last year. She had a good year, starting every match for the club. Her performances resulted in her winning the Wanderers Medal last season.
Cooper will be looking to lead her team to her second W-League Premiership or Championship or both, having previously won the double once with Canberra United in 2011-12.
One hopes she and Halloway can light a fire under the Wanderers, and repeat Cooper's exploits ten years later.