Paige Kingston-Hogg has made four appearances for the Newcastle Jets so far in the 2019/20 W-League season, after stepping out onto the pitch in the red-and-blue of her home town for the first time against Melbourne City in Round 1.
Most recently, as the Jets soared to a key 2-1 victory over Perth on the west coast to snap an eleven-year record, the 19-year-old made her biggest debut yet as she was thrown into the match in the 65th minute to replace the injured Libby Copus-Brown.
Three-points from the one-goal victory over Glory have set the Jets up well to make a strong bid for the W-League postseason against the league’s heavy-hitters, and that’s certainly on the whole squad’s mind heading into the fifth round.
Also on Kingston-Hoggs’ mind for the season, however, is just the fact that she’s settling in, and trying to enjoy every moment with the top-flight squad.
“It’s been super fun so far, and really good to be in the squad with all the girls for the first few weeks as well,” Kingston-Hogg said to the Chronicle.
“The squad this year is really close, and everyone is really good friends so we all get excited to go to training sessions together. That feeling means that we all want to do better for each other too, and I’ve really loved that so far.”
Kingston-Hogg spent her past seasons playing for the Emerging Newcastle Jets in the NPL Women’s competition against Sydney sides, honing her skills ahead of her call-up. Before that, she starred for South Wallsend in the Women’s Premier League.
On Saturday, under lights at Dorrien Gardens, she had her first major stint for the Jets, though unfortunately, it was at the expense of Copus-Brown, who was hooked from the contest in the 65th-minute with a head injury.
Despite the circumstances of her extended appearance, Kingston-Hogg took to the game well, and played a key role in Newcastle’s midfield to make sure Glory couldn’t find a way back into the match. In the end, the whole team succeeded.
Kingston-Hogg admits she didn’t expect to be going from Southy’s Sunday battles in Northern NSW’s WPL to the W-League in just a few years, but now that she’s in the top-flight, she wants to prove she belongs in the competition.
“I had absolutely no idea… I was mainly playing for fun at that point, and never really considered that I could maybe make it in the W-League,” she said.
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“I’m a naturally competitive person though, so it was the little things where if we were running, I always wanted to be the fastest, in fifty-fifties I always wanted to beat the other player. That’s what makes me stand out on the field, I think.”
According to the 19-year-old, who celebrated her birthday just last week, her spirit and determination are her greatest footballing skills, which help make up for her—in her words—”not so great technical skill.”
“I think I stick to the routine and work hard, and that’s what has benefitted me,” Kingston-Hogg said. “That spirit has given me some great opportunities, and I would have been stupid not to take them and fall into it as best I could.”
The youngster doesn’t want to rush things though. She may have bounced from the Wolves, to the Emerging Jets, and into Craig Deans’ inner W-League circle within the past few years, but right now she’s happy to learn from the pine.
“I’ve loved the time that I’ve played so far, but I think that I’m not quite ready to get heaps of time on the park yet, mainly because I want to wait until I’ve fully proved myself to the team, and myself, and I feel ready,” she revealed.
“Every game that I come into a learn more from too, which is what I want. It’s interesting watching on the sideline, and then getting into the game and trying to change its course. I’m working towards that starting level with what I learn.”
That’s not to say she has it easy on the bench either—maybe quite the opposite for the young star, as she admits “nerves take over” as she prepares for her end-game stints every weekend, and when she finally pulls off her training bibb.
“I’ll admit I was running on pure adrenaline in the games that I’ve played so far, they haven’t been for long, but I’ve really just been pretty high on that and looking to settle into the game through the nerves,” she said.
“I like it though, I never want to get into a game and have the nerves not there, they’re something that pushes me. There’s a fair bit of pressure when you’re trying to change the way the game is going, but I’d rather that than nothing at all.”
While Kingston-Hogg may not quite be ready for a starting appearance for the squad, she certainly acquitted herself well in the half-hour battle that she stepped into against the Glory on the weekend, and has earned the right for more.
At the end of the day, however, the Newcastle star is just happy to keep plugging away with the squad, and learning. She wants to do whatever is best for the team to earn points, and make that push towards a top-four spot, and finals.
Right now, the 19-year-old is pretty sure the whole team has what it takes.
“I’m not exactly the most tactical or knowledgable girl just yet, but I believe the girls beating anyone this season,” she stated of the Jets’ finals chances.
“I think that with our work ethic and with the confidence that we’ve been building, I don’t see why we can’t take three points from any game. I back us all the way to do it, and I have faith we can get there in the end.”