Pate­le­sio reaches magic 300

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - KRIS DANDO

Dawn Pate­le­sio can’t re­mem­ber ex­actly what year it was, but her first game for North­ern United is clear in her mind.

‘‘It was 1990 or 1991, on Porirua Park and we were play­ing Pe­tone,’’ she said. ‘‘I was 13 years old and just this lit­tle tiny winger. The first time I touched the ball, I looked up and saw these Pe­tone girls com­ing at me, so I booted the thing as far as I could.

‘‘I think that’s when my coach re­alised maybe I could kick, and my days as a first-five be­gan.’’

Two weeks ago, 39-year-old Pate­le­sio reached an in­cred­i­ble mile­stone for her beloved Norths, tak­ing to Porirua Park again for her 300th game.

She walked out with her daugh­ter through a guard of hon­our pro­vided by the pre­mier men’s team, and to a rous­ing re­cep­tion from the grand­stand.

Pate­le­sio said she was over­whelmed by the oc­ca­sion and fought back tears.

Not a full play­ing mem­ber these days, she is earn­ing her coach­ing stripes with the team. But be­ing told late last year by Norths stal­wart Matt Roun­tree she was on 297 matches, Pate­le­sio de­cided to go for it.

‘‘I’m not into num­bers and ac­co­lades and I’m nowhere near an 80-minute player any more, but it was spe­cial to hit 300. The club has given me so much and I’m lucky.’’

Pate­le­sio may have even played more than 300, but the records are spotty the fur­ther you go back.

She had one year off when her daugh­ter was born seven years ago, but few in­juries meant she has been a con­stant on the Norths teamsheet.

Pate­le­sio rep­re­sented Toke­lau at vol­ley­ball and touch rugby, Welling­ton and Samoa at rugby and New Zealand at rugby league. But the for­mer Holy Fam­ily School pupil and Bishop Viard Col­lege stu­dent said club rugby was, and still is, her first love.

She counts Vi­vian Rees, Riki Heimer and Tali Lilo as cru­cial in­flu­ences, but said she has learnt some­thing from ev­ery player and coach since she took the field in her teens.

‘‘The game it­self has changed so much since I started – more tech­ni­cal and you don’t end up with as many ruck marks. But things like work­ing to­gether and hav­ing pride in the jersey – that never changes.’’

PHOTO: KRIS DANDO

Dawn Pate­le­sio has played so many games for Norths, she can’t re­call how many club ti­tles the team has won.

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