Academy: The incredible resilience of a Jets youngster


Paige Abberfield didn’t have to chance to go through what would typically be regarded as an ideal pre-season in the lead-up to the 2019 NPL NSW Women’s season.

The 15-year-old has been in the Jets system for nearly six years, and this season has seen minutes for the U/15 Girls side in the U/17s competition.

However, her minutes on the park over the past two seasons have been limited but it’s through no fault of her own.

Back in April 2018, a horrific motorbike accident left Paige facing a massive effort to return to the pitch – as the youngster explains in her own words.

“I was riding with my dad out at West Wallsend, and there were four or five 4x4s that went past us, so we pulled over,” Paige said.

“It was really dusty, and we didn’t see another car coming [so] I went in front of dad, and I got t-boned form the side and was locked up under the car and dragged down the dirt road for three or four metres, unconscious.

“I was woken up by dad who told me what happened, I remember screaming in pain but I can’t remember the accident itself. I had to wait three days for surgery… I have four screws and wire in my, in my pelvis, [had] a lacerated kidney which mended by itself.

Paige Abberfield

“I was in hospital for about nearly three weeks, and they sent me home in a wheelchair for ten weeks. I couldn’t walk, stand, or anything. I had to shuffle on a board from my bed to my wheelchair.”

In the Jets system since the age of ten, Paige had become accustomed to a certain level of fitness but the accident turned that world upside down

She spent a total of three months off her feet after the accident, and a further five weeks thereafter on crutches as she learnt to walk unassisted.

A return to training in December – a whopping eight months after the accident – marked a massive step forward in her recovery but it wasn’t a smooth ride.

In her first session back, Paige rolled her ankle and did ligament damage which kept her sidelined for a further three weeks.

But from there, it’s been strength to strength for the youngster who returned to full training five weeks ago and has slowly but surely made a comeback on the pitch.

Increasing her gametime by five minutes a week, the arduous recovery paid off just over a fortnight ago as she came off the bench against the Illawarra Stingrays – and scored two goals.

They were her first goals in a competitive football match since early 2018 – and they meant the world to the 15-year-old.

“When I came on, I had a good feeling,” Paige said.

Paige Abberfield

“Soon as I scored my first goal, I felt happy and felt back in the game and a part of football again.

“Then I scored my second, and they were within like a minute of each other and that felt even better.”

With two goals under her belt, fitness levels increasing, and the aches and pains which come with such a dramatic injury starting to ease, things are looking up for the youngster.

She has plenty of runs on the board at the gym, spending plenty of time there in order to get hip and knee movements back to where they need to be for a full 90 minutes of football.

It is one step at a time though, and her goal is a simple one.

“Each week, I increase my gametime by five minutes, and by the end of the season I want to be able to play without pain, and without problems.”