Girls get a look at the big prize
The women’s under-17 football world cup is in town.
And players from the New Zealand Football Ferns under-17 squad have their eyes on the prize before the tournament kicks off at North Harbour Stadium and other venues around the country in October.
Epsom Girls Grammar boarder Hannah Wall says it was “amazing” the first time she saw the trophy, which has been visiting schools and clubs around New Zealand for the past few weeks.
But she thinks it would be even better to win the trophy at the tournament.
“It would be good to get New Zealand’s name on it for the first time.”
The team could progress beyond the group stage, although they face tough challenges with Canada, Colombia and Mexico in their pool.
“I’m confident we can get through to the quarter-finals,” Hannah says.
The 17-year-old midfielder, who moved up from Wellington this year to prepare for the world cup, says it is hard being away from her family for a whole year, but knows it’ll be worth it in the end.
“My whole life is down there, but all the soccer girls up here have been really inviting.
“And it’ll be so exciting to play in front of my friends and family. A lot of them haven’t seen me play for New Zealand before.”
Three Kings United player Annalie Longo says stringing good performances together is the key to matching it with other international teams at the tournament.
“We have patches where we’ll have a really great game and the next game completely fall to bits so finding that consistency is vital.”
And Annalie will be able to bring her experience from the top level to the team after representing the senior Football Ferns side at the world cup in China last year.
Centre-back Yumi Nguyen, who is also from Wellington, says the United States will be the team to beat in the tournament finals.
But if the Kiwis do come up against them, Yumi says it could bring out the best in the young Football Ferns.
“Just playing and being part of it is great, but I think it could make us play a lot better.”
Tournament general manager Nick Jordan says preparations for the event are coming along well, although it is a challenge coordinating teams from 16 countries.
The tournament runs from October 28 until November 16. For more information on tickets visit www.nzsoccer. com.
Eyes on the prize: Epsom Girls Grammar students and New Zealand under-17 players Yumi Nguyen, Annalie Longo and Hannah Wall with the under-17 women’s world cup, which they’ll be competing for in October.