In its continued effort to support the most talented young females in our regional areas, last week Football NSW brought together an Under 19 Squad involving some 22 players and eight coaches.
Whilst Greater Sydney and surrounding areas were in lockdown due to the most recent NSW Government restrictions, the camp, originally planned to be conducted at Valentine Sports Park, was moved to Bathurst and the campus of the Charles Sturt University.
In the past, opportunities such as TSP and Football Australia’s National Youth Championships stopped once a player reached 16 years of age, however Football NSW is keen to provide further support for slightly older players and the overall development of the game in the country regions.
Supported by a special three-year grant from the NSW Government’s Office of Sport, Football NSW is in the early stages of implementing an extensive development and support program for players aged 13-19 years of age, all aimed at continuing the successful pipeline of country based female players that have come through Football NSW’s talented player pathways and gone on to represent the country on the world stage.
With the Matildas kicking off their 2021 Olympics campaign this evening, Andrew Fearnley, Football NSW’s Development Manager, Regional, cited former Cowra youngster Ellie Carpenter as the ideal aspirational role model for the participating girls.
“Simply put, we are trying to find the next Ellie, and recognising the struggles and challenges faced by her and players such as the Sykes’ sisters, Sally Shippard, Jada Whyman, Amy Chapman, to name a few, much of which were bought about by remoteness and the additional burdens of travel, lack of depth and quality of competitions, we are doing what we can to support and overcome these barriers.
“I am so pleased that Ellie has kindly agreed to be our ambassador for this program, and we know that she is watching and supporting its progress from afar as we are equally supporting her in Japan.
“Football NSW is working with our regional Branches and Associations to provide as much support as we can for these young players and will shortly also be announcing a special support program for our female coaches in the regions.”
Beyond several training sessions with the squad, two games were played against boys’ teams at Proctor Park, and off the pitch, a workshop on the importance of diet and good nutrition was conducted. Further, the players were treated to a special online ‘zoom’ presentation by Young Matildas and Future Matildas Head Coach Leah Blayney.
Prevented from attending in person because of travel restrictions, Leah’s chat with the players was warmly received and of immense benefit to the playing and coaching group.
Working with Andrew was Southern Highland’s Technical Director, Nick D’Amore, and a number of other regional coaches who were brought in for their own professional development.
“The Camp was extremely well received by the players, the coaches and the parents,” said Fearnley.
“It was a great opportunity to be able to work with the group of such talented players, and now we will provide further opportunities for this slightly older age group.
“Whilst we missed some players due to the latest bout of COVID travel restrictions, it was a great start to the program, and we look forward to being able to build on it once football resumes on a broader scale.”
This Under 17-19s Girls Camp was the final series of camps that were held for regional players over the most recent school holidays with NSW Country Camps for Under 14/15 Boys and Under 14/16 Girls also moved to Bathurst.