A SEASON that started with tragedy has ended in a dream deal with South Korean club Suwon for Jets W-League captain Gema Simon.
The 25-year-old and fellow Newcastle defender Hannah Bromley will leave on Friday to begin pre-season with Suwon, who play in the KW-League – South Korea’s top division of women’s football.
It’s a change from the traditional path of Australian women’s footballers, who have regularly played in Europe and America during the W-League off-season. Simon played in Canada with Ottawa Fury in 2013 but received no pay, only off-field assistance from the club.
“I don’t know too many girls who have gone over there,” Simon said of the South Korea move.
“A couple have, but this chance came up and I thought ‘why not’.
“It’s a decent of amount of money as well, so that definitely helps ... I’ll come back with a house deposit, which is insane for women’s football.”
The lucrative deal comes after a rewarding return season at Newcastle for Simon, a foundation Jet who played one season at Melbourne Victory, in 2014-15.
While Newcastle exceeded expectations but fell short of the finals, Simon overcame a battle with chronic fatigue syndrome then the death of her mother, Noma Gordon, to be a consistent performer for the Jets.
”It was hard mentally and emotionally with my mum passing a couple of weeks before pre-season, but I was just focused on playing some good football and enjoying it,” the three-time Matildas representative said.
“It was an amazing season, and I fell in love with football again. It was a great bunch of girls and it was awesome.
“I thought I played quite consistently, and better in the second half of the season. I’m quite happy where I’m at and my body’s the best it’s been in years.”
Suwon, who finished third before losing in the semi-finals last year, start their season in mid-March. Simon plans to return for the Jets next W-League season but will miss the pre-season. She could also miss Newcastle’s opening games if Suwon make the play-offs again.