Foot­ballers make grade

Central Leader - - SPORT - By JESS LEE

A pair of Three Kings United play­ers will be part of the 20-strong squad of Young Football Ferns prim­ing them­selves to take on Aus­tralia in a three-match in­ter­na­tional se­ries this month.

New Young Football Ferns coach Jitka Klimkova has named mid­fielder Is­abella Richards and for­ward Mar­tine Puke­tapu as part of her first squad.

Mt Al­bert striker Jade Par­ris, from Metro FC, has also been picked for the team.

It will be the first time Richards and Par­ris have taken to the pitch as Young Football Ferns but Puke­tapu has ex­pe­ri­ence on her side as one of only three vet­er­ans from the un­der-17 World Cup re­main­ing.

The team kick off the se­ries with their Aus­tralian coun­ter­parts on Sun­day with a closed-door match in Can­berra be­fore fol­low­ing it up with games on Au­gust 14 and 17.

Klimkova says it will be a great ex­pe­ri­ence for the Young Ferns to face top-10 op­po­si­tion.

‘‘We’ll be able to mea­sure the level of where we are at the mo­ment and for the girls it will be an op­por­tu­nity for them to show their skills at in­ter­na­tional level.’’

The Aus­tralian side are more ex­pe­ri­enced hav­ing al­ready played three in­ter­na­tional games in Korea this sea­son.

Af­ter the tour of Aus­tralia, the Young Football Ferns will re­turn to be­gin prepa­ra­tion for the OFC Un­der17 Cham­pi­onship to be held in Jan­uary next year.

They will then start train­ing for the 2014 FIFA Un­der-17 Women’s World Cup tak­ing place in Costa Rica in March and April.

Pho­tos: JA­SON OXENHAM

Squad se­lec­tion: For­ward Mar­tine Puke­tapu is play­ing for the Young Football Ferns.

Cho­sen player: Jade Par­ris is among those se­lected for the Young Football Ferns squad which will take on Aus­tralia.

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