Gabe plunges into Perth Glory pool

Steve Butler

No one likes a diver in soccer . . . except Perth Glory.

In a swift career change after becoming the Australian Army's first qualified female work diver, Gabe Marzano's daring mission to join Glory's W-League team has her living out a childhood dream.

Marzano said she was not prepared to just hold her breath and wait any longer to see if she could step up into Australia's elite competition and virtually bludgeoned her way into Glory coach Jamie Harnwell's calculations for the current season.

She has now played all but one game and even forced her way into the starting line-up alongside six Australian players and a Canadian international.

"There's a risk in any sort of dream you want to chase . . . I couldn't get over here quick enough," Marzano said.

Marzano was born in Harvey before her family moved soon after to Townsville, where the army holds a strong presence.

The 22-year-old admits she had little time for Barbie dolls or ballet dancing and grew a powerful passion for soccer and the army.

She moved from Townsville to the Royal Military College in Canberra, then to Sydney and Brisbane after first wandering into her local defence recruiting centre to join the army at 18 years of age.

Towards the end of her 18-month general service course she listed a preference to graduate into the Royal Australian Engineers, which she did in December 2012.

Typical of her can-do personality, Marzano decided to then take the challenge of becoming the first female army work diver.

But having been granted special leave to try to follow her soccer dream to Perth, Marzano said she was overwhelmed by what she described as a "very surreal experience" when Harnwell offered her a Glory contract.

Harnwell said Marzano's mix of raw talent and a desperation borne of her army background was simply too good to ignore.