Ben Gilby profiles Jada Mathyssen-Whyman, Sydney FC’s young and highly talented goalkeeper who is a fabulous role model for female indigenous Australian football players.
Jada Mathyssen-Whyman is one of those players who seems to have been around for a long time – yet she is still just 21 years-old and still pushing for a place in the Matildas squad.
With ancestry from the Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta (also known as Jotijota) indigenous peoples and with an Aussie Rules legend in David Wirrpanda as an uncle and godfather, Mathyssen-Whyman grew up in Wagga Wagga, which is located 284 miles from Sydney, Jada became a goalkeeping star from a young age.
She began playing football at the age of ten and within a year was selected for the New South Wales Country team At the age of just thirteen, Jada was selected for the Young Matildas for the 2013 Asian Under Sixteen Women’s Championships. Also in this squad were current W-League stars Sunny Franco, Rhianna Pollicina, Georgina Worth, Teagan Micah, Isabel Dalton, Angie Beard and Alex Chidiac.
Two years later, Mathyssen-Whyman played for Australia’s U20 side at the Asian U19 Women’s Championships in China before being selected for the main Matildas squad in 2018 for friendlies in France and England.
The level at which the young goalkeeper was now playing meant many hours travelling from her Wagga Wagga home to play in the NSW Premier League with Macarthur Rams – a round trip of over five hundred miles each week. In addition she was also spending time in Canberra being mentored by the Matildas goalkeeping coach Paul Jones at his Academy.
This was an exceptionally tough time for the whole family which also led to them having to spend some time camping in a tent – a period which Jada now identifies as a period which helped to make her stronger personally. Eventually, the Matthysen-Whyman’s made the move to Sydney which enabled Jada to attend Westfields Sports High School – which served as the pilot for the then FFA’s High Performance Football School Program.
Whilst at Macarthur Rams, Jada was voted as Goalkeeper of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2018.
In 2016 she was offered her first W-League contract with Western Sydney Wanderers. At the time, she told Rebecca First of the local ‘Leader’ newspaper: “It will probably be scary, but pretty awesome at the same time. What I am most excited about is playing against Lydia Williams (now of Arsenal), she’s one of my biggest inspirations in goal.”
That inspiration comes from Williams not just being an outstanding goalkeeper, but also as a fellow indigenous Australian. “I was watching TV when a story about Lydia came on, it stated how she was indigenous and a goalkeeper also…I was instantly filled with enjoyment as I watched her,” Mathyssen-Whyman told Ann Odong in 2016.
Her first season in the W-League with Western Sydney Wanderers started with a bang in the big derby against Sydney FC. That campaign saw Jada make seven appearances before suffering the agony of a torn thigh against Newcastle Jets which ended her season.
She came back and played a further twenty-eight games for Western Sydney Wanderers over the following four seasons and suffered injury heartbreak once more, with a long term knee injury. before joining Sydney FC for the 2021 campaign.
Mathyssen-Whyman is aware of her status as a role model to young indigenous Australians. “Seeing what indigenous athletes too like a long time ago Cathy Freeman, now Jade North and Lydia Williams, Kyah Simon as well, players like that show me that my dream can come true and hopefully what I do can help other kids;” she said in 2018.
Jada has subsequently become involved with John Moriarty Football, an organisation who, in partnership with Football Australia, are dedicated to helping young indigenous Australian footballers. Additionally, the young goalkeeper also does volunteer youth work for Glebe Youth Service who support young indigenous Australians in remote communities.
With Sydney FC going so well in the W-League campaign this season, Mathyssen-Whyman will be aiming to add a Grand Final winners medal to her cabinet in the coming months. Whatever happens, she is a player and an individual to keep a close eye on.