Almost a decade on from making her Westfield W-League debut at the age of just 15, Emma Checker will make her 100th appearance when Melbourne City FC faces Perth Glory on Friday night.
A permanent fixture in the league since that day in October 2011, Checker has established herself as one of the leagues best and most reliable defenders, also having gone on to represent the Matildas on five occasions.
Her career started with hometown team Adelaide United, and she barely had a chance to catch her breath after debuting for the club before the initial national team call up came.
"A lot of things happened in my career really close together and at such a young age,” Checker said.
“Sometimes you do have to look back to fully appreciate just how special and incredible that period of time was.”
With a Matildas cap already to her name at the age of 16, followed by a trip to the Asian Cup a year later, Checker would spend another season with the Reds before continuing her career with Melbourne Victory,then Canberra United.
A stint in South Korea ended early due to a knee injury, after which the central defender decided a move back to Adelaide was best.
Checker would join City ahead of the 2019/20 season and that move would immediately pay off as she played every match in what was a historic double winning season for the Club.
With almost a decade having passed since her debut and a further 98 games added to her tally, Checker still remembers her first match clearly.
“It was almost overwhelming in the sense that you don't really understand at that age the full level of what you're doing,” Checker said.
"Full credit to Adelaide for believing in me back then at 15 to play a full season at such a young age.
“For me I was so excited to be given such an incredible opportunity that the nerves were probably less than they are when I'm playing now.”
100 games is a big achievement in any sport at any level, but given the W-League has just a 12 game season (10 when Checker debuted) it makes it even more special.
“Playing my 100th game is a milestone achievement that I am really proud of,” she said.
“It is a privilege to be sharing the field and celebrating such a big moment with Melbourne City and my teammates.
“These milestones can’t be reached alone,” Checker said, “I’m grateful for everyone that has been a part of the journey to this point with me.”
There is no doubt the footballing landscape in Australia has seen dramatic change since Checker’s debut in 2011 and she credits the success of the Matildas over that period as one of the big factors.
This has helped drive positive change in the W-League with stadia and income a couple of those big changes our star women’s footballers such as Checker have seen over the journey.
“All of those baseline standards have just gone up massively,” she said.
After just one season with the City, Checker was made Captain and she’ll lead out the team for the eighth time tomorrow night when City take on Perth away from home.
You’ll be able to catch tomorrow night’s fixture live on Kayo and the My Football Live app, before you can celebrate her 101st game in person next Thursday when we again take on the Glory – this time at Frank Holohan Reserve.
Click here to get your tickets!