I wanted to test myself in a professional environment

Moving to Brighton & Hove Albion was the step Rianna Jarrett needed to take her game to the next level.

The 26-year-old joined the Seagulls in January of 2020, making the move from Wexford Youths in her native Ireland.

The striker played one game for Brighton, where she scored two goals against Crystal Palace in the Women’s FA Cup, before the season was curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But with a full pre-season in a professional outfit now under her belt for the first time, the Irish international believes her best is yet to come.

“I wanted to test myself in a professional environment and to take that next step,” Jarrett said.

“I’d been playing in Wexford for a few years, I’d been back playing injury-free for a few years and I thought that the time was now and it was the right time for me to do so.

“I’m fortunate enough that Hope [Powell] and everyone at Brighton took the leap of faith in me and signed me back in January.

“It’s been great being back [this season] and we do have to count ourselves lucky that we are the fortunate ones that can still continue to do what we love.

“Yes, there’s restrictions but we’re still able to play the game that we love. We’re still able to go to work every single day and still able to be around each other.

“I’m still learning, it’s definitely a new level going from amateur to professional to full-time and I’m still growing and still adapting.

“The WSL is the best league in the world at the moment and coming up against top players week in week out and then training with top players as well, I’m fortunate for the opportunity but just looking to get the best out of myself and see how far I can get.”

Brighton sit ninth in the table, coming off the back of a goalless draw against Birmingham City, while they host FA Cup winners Manchester City in their next fixture.

And the competition in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League was something which drew Jarrett to sign for the club, as well as being coached by Hope Powell.

Jarrett experienced life in the USA for one semester when she went to the University of Tennessee at Martin on an athletic scholarship and started the process of earning her coaching badges while at college.

Being under the guidance of Powell and learning from her is something the forward wants to take into life when she retires from playing.

“Her experience in the women’s game, she’s played at the highest level, coached at the international level and is now coaching at the highest level in club football as well,” she explained.

“It’s fantastic and every day is an opportunity to learn from her, not only as a player but I’ve also done my coaching badges in college.

“I have my UEFA B license so I plan to after I finish, I would like to hopefully stay involved in the game, maybe in a coaching capacity and to be able to learn from someone that’s gone from that transition from a player to a coach as well is fantastic.

“The more that I play the more I’m around, not only Hope as a top manager but also the players, I’m going to grow on the pitch as well and my knowledge and that of the game is only going to improve.”

Jarrett came through the Ireland youth system and was a member of the U17 squad who made it to the World Cup in 2010.

She made her senior debut in March 2016 and, after recovering from her third ACL injury in her career, was recalled to the side in 2018.

Despite narrowly missing out on a place in the play-offs to qualify for the Euros in 2022, the Brighton forward believes the team will put those lessons into their 2023 World Cup qualifying campaign.

Jarrett added: “As each campaign goes on, I think we’re growing, I think we’re learning, I think we’re improving, our standards on and off the pitch are improving each month, each year.

“We’ve got a lot of players now playing in full-time environments, we’ve got players playing in top clubs and I think that’s only going to benefit us going forward.

“The pain and the hurt that we’re going to take from this campaign into the World Cup qualifying campaign is going to stand to us.

“We’ve learned some hard lessons and hopefully we learn from them and build on them going forward. Our goal is to qualify for the World Cup in 2023 which is Australia and New Zealand.”

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