OVER the past few seasons, both the Shoalhaven and Southern Branch representative sides have produced a number quality football players and this season is no different.
In 2018, the 15 girls NSW Country side, which is competing at the 2018 Football Federation Australia Nationals Identification Tournament in Coffs Harbour this week, features four Shoalhaven players; goalkeeper Tara Bailey, defenders Jasmine Tan and Casey Johnson and attacking midfielder Bronte Wright, as well as two shadow players – forward Taniesha Angelkovski and midfielder Zoe Anderson.
Not to be outdone is Southern Branch’s Luella Boulton, who regularly makes a seven hour round trip from Bega to Nowra for training, who is also part of the NSW Country squad.
Similarly to the 15s side, the 14 girls NSW Country side is dominated by South Coast products, with six of them being in the squad.
They include defenders Millicent Eyland, Abby Crapp and Chloe Hain, midfielder Charlotte Hampshire and forwards Ella Hewson and Poppy Tay.
“It’s been a massive year for the girls and their families”, State training coach Brad Banks said, as he wished the girls all the best for the week long tournament in Coffs Harbour.
All these players were identified at the 2017 State Titles in Mudgee, before they go through extensive selection camps, held at the home of football, Valentine Sports Park, in Sydney.
During these selection camps, they must complete a state training program alongside their regular club training program.
While it’s a massive commitment, it’s great to see that 13 girls out of 32 players selected for NSW Country will be representing the Shoalhaven and Southern Branch at the biggest stage for their age groups.
From this tournament, the girls can be identified for NSW Institute Football Programs and young Matilda pathways programs.
Through the first two days of competition in Coffs Harbour, both NSW Country sides remain undefeated.
Monday saw the 14 girls battle out a courageous come from behind draw against their NSW Metro White cousins, with Poppy Tay opening the scoring in this game.
This was a very physical and fast game, which was a eye opener for the NSW Country girls.
Ella Hewson and Poppy Tay were dangerous in attack whenever Charlotte Hampshire and her hard working midfield were able to supply balls forward.
While Chloe Hain and Millicent Eyland stayed strong in defence continually called into physical play, during the match that ended as a 2-all draw.
Tuesday matchup was a game the Country 14 girls were looking to make a statement.
However an outstanding performance from the Northern Territory’s goalkeeper meant that the half-time score was nil-all, despite NSW Country dominating possession, shots on goal and field position.
In the second half, the floodgates opened with Poppy Tay opening the scoring, before contributing to another two – she then rounded off the strong game with a second half hat-trick, in the 5-nil win.
Differently, the 15 girls opposition for their opening round game on Monday was Western Australia.
The game started very fast, with end to end play, where Casey Johnson and Jasmine Tan were standouts in defence.
Luella Boulton and Bronte Wright were kept busy in a physical midfield battle stopping build up play and getting into attacking areas – with NSW Country running out 3-1 winners.
Day two was a banana game against Emerging Jets, one slip and the girls could lose control of their destiny.
NSW Country started strongly, winning the battle and surprising the Jets with their confident attacking play.
Bronte Wright was moved to striker and opened the scoring in the first half, while Tara Bailey had a very busy second half called upon to make several crucial saves, as NSW Country won 2-nil.