Soccer at 60

Spencer Fowler Steen

 

Despite being “out-of-sight the oldest” soccer player on her team, Kensington’s Susan Rushworth believes it’s never too late to start something new.

At 60 years young, Ms Rushworth played her first game of soccer for the Kensington City Soccer Club (KCSC) women’s league in May, something she wishes she had the opportunity to do years ago.

All it took was some inspiration from a 73-year-old lady from Perth she met at a recent soccer game in Melbourne.

“I met a lady from Perth in a coffee queue at a Perth Glory game who started playing in her 60s and was still playing soccer and enjoying herself, and I went, well I can do that,” Ms Rushworth said.

“If I want to give it a go, I’ll give it a go.”

Growing up in England, Ms Rushworth was surrounded by soccer from an early age.

Her father, sister and husband all barrack for Manchester City Football Club, so naturally she followed suit.

Her obsession with soccer peaked every four years with the advent of the World Cup, which she watched religiously.

But despite her passion for football, Ms Rushworth said she had never played competitively.

“I’ve never played competitive sport ever, mainly because I went to a girls’ school which offered netball, but I didn’t know the rules, so I didn’t get to play,” she said.

“Soccer crowds were quite rough then, so I didn’t go to games either.”

Formerly the president of the KCSC juniors, Ms Rushworth set her sights on playing in the club’s first women’s team in 2018. But her introduction to playing soccer was a series of false starts.

Ms Rushworth said the pandemic put an end to her 2020 debut despite beginning training in 2019.

“The first round of the 2021 season, we were set to go,” she said.

“But the team didn’t show up in round one, and in round two, we were set to play Warragal and we didn’t have the numbers, so we forfeited, so round three was our first match.”
Despite vehemently declaring she is “not sporty” whatsoever, Ms Rushworth maintains positive outlook on being the eldest member of the KCSC.

“The fact I didn’t play competitive sport means I haven’t had injuries so in some ways my body is better off,” she said.

“The club is incredibly accepting, really friendly, and we’ve got quite diverse nationalities.”

“The coaches have said, ‘that’s okay, you’re one of the players’ – they’ve really supported me.”

On her team, the next eldest player is 35, with the average age sitting at around 25. The youngest player is just 16.

Ms Rushworth’s daughter, Lucy Churches, 17, even plays at KCSC in a different team having started playing when she was seven.

“My daughter is proud of me, and I’m glad because she could’ve seen it as an embarrassment!” Ms Rushworth said with a laugh.

In her first game, Ms Rushworth found herself subbed on for an attacker and quickly got within striking distance of the goals.

“But I panicked and got shouted at for not taking the shot. If it happens again, I’ll have a go!”

It’s an outlook Ms Rushworth said everyone should adopt.

“If you want to have a go just get over your embarrassment. You don’t have to ask for permission, just turn out. I don’t think age has to be a barrier,” she said.

KCSC is currently looking for more female players and urges anyone who is interested to give it a try. Visit facebook.com/kensingtoncitysoccerclub/•

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