Seraphina Newton, a Siren Emerging Sports Writer, spoke with Franny Iermano about the value of talent programs, dealing with setbacks, and staying focused on goals.
When you think of a bull, a lot of things might spring to mind. The Spanish bull. Picasso’s bull. The Chicago Bulls. But there is one bull you might not have heard of yet. Franny Iermano, an exciting young winger with big ambition and the dedication and resilience to match.
“I’m a Taurus, so I’d like to say I’m a little bit of a bull, I am feisty… I’ve gotten called that before and I love it, I rate that,” Franny said of the tag.
Who Franny is as a player and a person seems to be very alike. She’s determined, hard working and tenacious—all traits also associated with the Taurus.
A member of Football Victoria’s Emerging Matildas program, Franny’s football journey began in primary school. It didn’t take long before she realised she wanted something more.
“I think that’s how a lot of girls’ playing careers start—playing with the boys, because they’re the ones that get to play and stuff… I was playing with the boys at lunchtime and actually realised I was killing them. And then I started playing for a local junior team.”
Franny joined a club in Kensington at the age of ten. Her family was living in North Melbourne and it was the closest club that had a girl’s team. After three seasons at Kensington, she then played one season with the Essendon Royals before getting accepted into the Victorian National Training Centre (NTC) program. Stints with the Bulleen Lions and a train-on position with Melbourne City followed before Franny made her way to the Emerging Matildas program.
Launched in 2019, Football Victoria’s Emerging Matildas program provides opportunities for young female footballers to gain experience in an elite setting. The program fields a team—FV Emerging—in the NPLW Victoria competition giving players valuable experience in a competitive league. At its core, the program is designed to be a pathway to professional football and the Matildas.
Franny credits much of her development to the Victorian NTC program and Emerging Matildas program. “Back when I played NTC initially, we would lose every game and it was really hard. We weren’t allowed to play finals. We were there purely for development. I think that played a big part in me being mentally resilient.”
Given the way the two programs have influenced and impacted Franny, it’s unsurprising that she was disappointed when she aged out of the Emerging Matildas program.
“I was kind of devastated when I got to the point where I couldn’t be retained,” Franny said.
“I think once you get involved, especially in something like the NTC when you’re training four times a week, it’s no longer just a hobby. It’s actually part of your lifestyle.”
Some might see the aging out of the Emerging Matildas without a call up to the national squad or a W-League contract waiting as a setback, but not Franny.
“In terms of the word setback, I’ve never really liked the word setback to be honest, if anything it’s definitely a challenge or a roadblock. The thing about a roadblock is they’re not there forever anyway, they move and they’re not needed anymore. Similarly, I think your mentality plays a big role in how you choose to define things like that.”
For Franny, the roadblock that was aging out was moved because after playing one season with the Bulleen Lions, Football Victoria changed the age limit for the Emerging Matildas program and Franny was back and playing with FV Emerging.
“The team environment, it’s the best I’ve ever played with. I’ve played with every girl in this team at least once, even three or four times.”
While the rise in age limit for the program gave Franny greater opportunities, she says having some more experienced and senior players makes a positive difference to the team and the program as a whole.
“You need to have more senior players just because… a lot of girls have access to elite programs where they have been exposed to a high level at a young age and have already played with professional players. You need senior players to keep them grounded and reiterate what our team values and goals are.
“In terms of being the oldest, I would like to say I have a really good relationship with all the girls on and off the field. I would say that’s because I put their best interests at heart as well, because I know how important it is to have those dynamics to have a winning mentality.
“If you have any drama or anything like that in the team, that’s when things start to fall apart. We are a whole.”
When Franny was younger her dream was to play in the Matildas, nowadays she thinks about things a little differently. Her dreams haven’t shrunk, they’ve just narrowed in focus. The focus right now is on the current season with FV Emerging—her last in the program— and setting herself up well to be contracted by a W League team.
“This year, the goal is to get on the field and get minutes in—100% that’s it, that’s all I’m focusing on right now. We have till September and stuff like that, but what’s driving me is not having it. I can say I’ve been with Melbourne City as a train on, but I can’t say I’ve played W League…There’s nothing I kinda have that I’m more determined to do than get a W contract this season.”
A successful season in the NPLW Victoria could lead to a spot on a W-League list. With a second aging out of the Emerging Matildas in sight, it’s something Franny wants but she refuses to let her goals overwhelm her.
“You start realising that you really need to break things up into step by step achievements,” she said. “Don’t compare yourself to others because everyone just has a completely different route.”
The next stage of her career may be a little uncertain but Franny isn’t worried. After all, she is the bull that can’t be stopped.
“I am 21, I still haven’t made a W-League contract, but that just drives it more like that’s something I need to do. It’s not about age or anything. I could be 26 and get contracted and I can still say that I did it.”