It is a monumental job replacing someone widely regarded as Australia’s best female soccer star.
But even if she needs some extra caffeine to get the job done, Natasha Rigby said she was ready to step into Sam Kerr’s boots as the new skipper for Perth Glory.
“I am on my third coffee today so that is why I am speaking so fast, I just have crazy amounts of energy,” Rigby joked while taking a break from her day job at Lord’s Recreation Centre in Subiaco where she manages the sporting competitions.
The recreation centre is a long way, and a little less glamorous, than Kerr’s new home at Stamford Bridge in London.
The Matildas star recently signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with English heavyweights Chelsea on a deal reportedly worth more than $600,000 a season.
Kerr will join the London club during the European winter transfer window.
The elation and devastation
It is a lifestyle far removed from Rigby’s, who now juggles work and the increased responsibility of leading a W-League club.
And while the loss of Kerr left a gaping hole at Perth in terms of star power and leadership, the new Glory captain remained realistic about the situation.
“We are so devastated not to have Sam back,” the 26-year-old said.
“But also so elated for her and the opportunities that she has got at her feet, so we wish her all the best and we will be cheering her on from afar.”
Now left with the job of leading a rebuilding squad, the defender admitted it was hard not to feel the pressure that came with having to replace one of the biggest names in women’s soccer
“Um yeah, obviously,” Rigby laughed.
“But I love Sam and I have played under her for three years and she has been such an amazing role model to myself and to the team as well, so to take all her amazing qualities and try and build on those and just do the best job I can is all I can do.”
Glory slips in opening games
It has been a tough start to life as captain for Rigby.
Although she has performed well on the pitch, the team has struggled.
The Glory is bottom of the W-League ladder having lost its opening two games, but at the moment Rigby said nobody was panicking, and she was “loving” the role despite the results.
“The girls are incredible, I love the vibe at the moment and we are a really young, new, amazing team coming through, so it has been fantastic,” she said.
“To have those girls coming into our squad and bringing that new fresh injection of excitement and talent is awesome.”
Finding the next Sam Kerr
Importantly for Rigby, who is a WA local having grown up in Margaret River, the new crop of promising young talent are mostly from Western Australia.
Teenagers Lexie Moreno, Leticia McKenna and Hana Lowry have all shown great potential and been part of Australian underage squads.
“These girls are fantastic, they bring with them not just amazing skills but awesome attitudes as well, so it has been fantastic to have them.
“I reckon we have got the next Sam Kerr among us definitely. “
And with enough opportunity and guidance, they could even line up alongside Kerr for the Matildas.