Anna-leigh has the football bug

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By MATT SHAND

Tawa Col­lege 13-year-old An­naLeigh Gil­lies trav­elled over­seas with a sports team for the first time in June, but if she keeps her win­ning form it cer­tainly won’t be the last.

The cen­tre back re­cently re­turned vic­to­ri­ous from Aus­tralia Football’s Kanga Cup Football, the largest youth football tour­na­ment in the south­ern hemi­sphere held in Can­berra.

Her team, the NOKouts, are a de­vel­op­ment squad of de­ter­mined fe­male foot­ballers from the western zone of Welling­ton and won the un­der-14 girls’ di­vi­sion un­beaten.

Anna-Leigh has played for the club for two years and, com­bined with her Tawa Col­lege first XI re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, plays or trains for football four to five times a week.

‘‘I’ve played football for as long as I can re­mem­ber. My fam­ily is re­ally into the sport,’’ Anna-Leigh said.

‘‘It was re­ally fun trav­el­ling over­seas with the team. We stayed in the hu­mungous Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Sport com­plex and got to meet other teams in the com­pe­ti­tion, which was fun.

‘‘I hope to head back next year to de­fend our ti­tle.’’

But over­seas will have to wait un­til lo­cal busi­ness has been taken care of. Her col­lege team is trav­el­ling to Napier in Septem­ber and the Welling­ton NOKouts have a tour­na­ment in Taupo dur­ing Oc­to­ber.

The high level of play­ing and tour­ing has meant Anna-Leigh has had to bal­ance prac­tice with fundrais­ing.

‘‘We’ve done heaps of fundrais­ing – sausage siz­zles, quiz nights, raf­fles,’’ she said. ‘‘ Our team raised $50,000 for our trip to the Kanga Cup.’’

Though she has en­joyed much suc­cess so far, her NOKout team has had a brush with tragedy.

NOKout coach Des Vin­cen­tDus­tow died last Septem­ber af­ter los­ing his bat­tle with cys­tic fi­bro­sis.

‘‘Des was re­ally mo­ti­vat­ing to me and the team,’’ Anna-Leigh said. ‘‘ He was al­ways re­ally pos­i­tive when coach­ing. He drove us to do our best with­out ever yelling or get­ting all grumpy. We played harder in Can­berra for him.’’

The girls were so in­spired by their late coach that they added his name to the club em­blem and car­ried a pho­to­graph of him so he could ap­pear in team pho­tos.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.