Young Ferns mak­ing mark

Central Leader - - SPORT - By LAUREN PRI­EST­LEY

The Young Foot­ball Ferns are in the midst of mak­ing his­tory.

The team is cur­rently com­pet­ing at the FIFA Un­der-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica and will play next on March 23 against Ja­pan.

They kicked off the tour­na­ment with a 1-1 draw with Paraguay on March 16.

It was the first time New Zealand has scored a point at the tour­na­ment in six years.

Af­ter a score­less first half at the Ri­cardo Saprissa Ayma Sta­dium, Auck­land Foot­ball player Daisy Cleverley got past two play­ers in the 69th minute to break the dead­lock with a fierce drive. Paraguay pulled level with just six min­utes to go.

The Young Ferns team in­cludes Three Kings United mid­fielder Is­abella Richards and Metro FC for­ward Jade Par­ris.

The Mt Al­bert Gram­mar School young­ster scored the teams’ only goal against China in an NTC In­vi­ta­tional Tour­na­ment in Fe­bru­ary.

The team had their fi­nal train­ing and shirt pre­sen­ta­tion at Eller­slie AFC at Michaels Av­enue Re­serve last week.

Coach Jitka Klimkova says the team is keyed up and ready to make an im­pact on the field dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion.

The big­gest chal­lenge was al­ways go­ing to be ad­just­ing to the dif­fer­ent foot­ball styles in the tour­na­ment, she says.

‘‘Hav­ing Paraguay, Spain and Ja­pan in our group means we are fac­ing dif­fer­ent styles of foot­ball than we usu­ally ex­pe­ri­ence and we have to be able to adapt,’’ she says.

‘‘We re­alise how much quicker we have to play at in­ter­na­tional level and when we are de­fend­ing we have to be com­pact, to­gether and ag­gres­sive.’’

High hopes: Mt Al­bert young­ster Jade Par­ris is cur­rently com­pet­ing for the Young Foot­ball Ferns.

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