Large contingent of locals
NORTH Coast Football (NCF) enjoys the highest selection rate for the nationals than in any previous year with six girls from the local area to take to the field in Northern NSW colours – three in the 17 years and another three in the 15 years.
Sarah Marsden is back for another tilt at the nationals but this will be her final shot because she is at the upper age limit, making her one of the senior members of the squad.
Sarah plays for Urunga in women’s 1st division and men’s youth grade and is in a unique position to judge this year’s nationals with previous years.
“I’m looking forward to this year’s new format for nationals and am hoping the northern NSW team can perform as well, if not better than last year,” Sarah said.
Jasmin Courtenay plays with the Woolgoolga Wildcats in women’s 1st division and was in the Northern NSW 15’s at last year’s nationals, but being 16 this year, finds herself in the 17 years squad.
Jaz is looking forward to being part of FFA’s biggest event for juniors.
“I’m really excited about it, but nervous at the same time.
“I know I am just going to enjoy every moment of it,” she said earlier this week.
Similarly, Macksville’s Kellie Langham, who partnered Jasmin last year in the Northern 15’s team, will be making the step up to the senior squad for the first time.
Kellie plays with the Macksville men’s 2nd division team so she should be ready for a tough battle out on the stadium surface.
“I am looking forward to national competition and the experience that comes along with it.
“It should be awesome but I am a little nervous,” Kellie said.
Keira Plumbe, from the Boambee women’s first division team, is one of three local girls to make her debut at the nationals as she pulls on the Northern NSW jumper in the 15’s squad.
Keira travels from Dorrigo multiple times each week for training and playing but reckons the effort is worth it and her results are reflecting that.
“I just want to be able to walk away from nationals knowing that I gave everything I could and not wishing I had done more,” Keira said.
Jesse Gentle, from the Woolgoolga club, is still too young to play seniors (she turns 14 two weeks after the tournament), but already plays in the 15 years boys’ competition for Woopi where spectators have been predicting a bright future for her for some time.
The final NCF player to receive a call up is Alannah Rosewood who is the goalkeeper with the Coffs Tigers 15 years girls’ team.
At 14, Alannah is also a year away from playing seniors, but will relish the opportunity to pull the gloves on at the nationals, although it seems like a daunting task.
“It’s like every now and then you forget how close the nationals actually are and as soon as you remember, the nerves hit,” Alannah said just days out from the big event.
Alannah is recovering from a serious injury and has only just made it back onto the paddock after dislocating her knee before the season even got underway.
All except Sarah Marsden are current members of the NCF C.ex Group 16’s girls’ team playing in the State Youth League, which gives an indication of how strong that team is and why they sit near the top of the ladder.
“This is an excellent representation from NCF and is a credit to our representative coaches and the work that they do in the State Youth League,” said Richard Evans, Football Manager at NCF.
“Each of these girls deserve their place and have worked very hard over the past few years to get to this point.
“To give you an indication of the dedication required at this level, these girls trained on a weekly basis past the end of last season right through to the start of this one with just a few weeks off over Christmas,” he said.
“It would not surprise any of us if in just a few short years we hear some of these names read out at senior national level.”
Northern NSW 17s play their first match against the highly rated Queensland at 3pm on Tuesday while the 15s get their tournament underway at 1.30pm Tuesday against NSW Country.