The Sunset women’s football team has been formidable for years, sweeping every team before them, and with the influx of new players, they look destined to continue that dominance this season.
Natalia Wilson joined Sunset in the summer and played her first game last week in their 2-1 extra time victory over Scholars International.
Wilson arrived in Cayman in July to start working for Uniregistry as a domain broker and joined Sunset in September.
She previously trained with Sunset last year while visiting her brother Andrew Zarczynski, 32, and got to know some of the squad then.
The Charity Shield victory was extremely pleasing for Wilson as it was her first competitive game and players like her, new to the heat and humidity, found it tough to deal with a 5 p.m. kickoff.
“Overall, our character shone and we battled till the end. Thankfully it didn’t go to penalties,” Wilson said.
For her, Jovani Hessing’s great penalty save was one of the highlights which spurred them on and the “fantastic” goals by Martha Hall “and our determination to get over the finish line as winners.”
Wilson was used as a left winger against Scholars, but such is her versatility, she has played left back, in central defense and left midfield. “To be honest, I am happy to play anywhere – well not in goal.”
The 35-year-old Englishwoman sees Sunset’s key players as Hall for her goals, “she has them in her locker,” and their central midfielders, “but I’m hoping we will gel more as the games go on as a team and all be reliant on each other.”
Wilson has been playing the beautiful game for 20 years, since being introduced at school in Swindon, around 80 miles west of London.
An active child, into all sports, she was happy to give football a go having grown up watching her brother play at the weekends.
“I knew straight away that football wasn’t going to be just a phase. I joined a local ladies team, Swindon Spitfires, and the rest is history.”
Wilson feels fortunate to have played at different levels throughout her time and met some great friends along the way, winning league titles and cups and also at 18 having England trials. “Unfortunately, I didn’t succeed but it was a great experience.”
She loves the feeling of walking onto the pitch and knowing that every training session, every game, is going to be different.
The fact that it’s a team sport and they work together to achieve the same goal, plus the fitness and health aspects, are what she loves most about football.
Against Scholars, she found it tough. “The heat, still working on my fitness and also getting used to playing on turf and not grass.
“It is so much quicker, but I gave all I could and I know as a team we need to keep working hard and over the next few weeks we will continue to get stronger.”
Wilson is “here to have fun but to also take pride in my performances.”
Sunset are overwhelming favorites to win the lot. She added, “I will always give 100 percent while I am wearing a Sunset kit and I look forward to growing as a team.
“We have one trophy already and I know I can also answer for my teammates that we want to win everything, so that’s the plan.”
Sunset start the defence of their league title on Sunday at the North Side field, against Elite Sports Club, at 5 p.m. In the other women’s game, Scholars face Alliance at the same time at the Bodden Town field.
Football training twice a week and matches on a Sunday do not leave her much time for anything else, but she has been playing tennis and taking advantage of her lovely pool at home by trying to swim as much as she can.
Wilson added, “I want to predict that we will [win] everything but I will go with us for league and FA Cup, and Elite the President’s Cup.”
Of the overall state of Cayman football, she is “very impressed.”
Growing up in the home country of football, she never missed out on opportunities, “but considering how small this island is, it is very well organized.”
She is impressed with how good the facilities are, especially the playing field at Camana Bay where Sunset train “and most importantly, how well we are coached.”
She added, “Alan [Purvis, the head coach] is awesome and training sessions are so enjoyable. My brother plays for Sunset men and he has always raved about how well organized it is here.”
Injuries are common in football. Wilson feels relatively fortunate with injury although in 2010 she broke her ankle in an innocuous five-a-side game with friends.
She missed out on a surprise birthday trip to New York because of it. “Luckily, I went, but a few months later.”