Young Football Ferns coach Paul Temple has cast a wide net in selecting a 21 strong squad for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan in September.
Hamilton, Christchurch, Wellington and Nelson have all supplied players to a squad where over half hail from outside Auckland, albeit two of those players - Wellington’s CJ Bott and Nelson’s Emily Jensen -have played their football in the Super City this season as they chased places in the squad.
Waterside Karori in the capital and Auckland’s Lynn Avon United supply four players each while Glenfield Rovers, Christchurch’s Coastal Spirit and ASB Women’s Knockout Cup finalists Three Kings United all supply a trio of players.
Emma Fletcher from Vancouver Whitecaps is the only non-New Zealand based player while Pukekohe’s Courteney van Lieshout and Tayla Christensen from Hamilton’s Melville United round out the squad chosen largely from graduates of New Zealand Football’s National Talent Centres.
Temple says the greater geographic spread to this squad compared to previous U-17 women’s squads bodes well for the strength of the women’s football.
"Hopefully it’s a sign of the development and growth of the game around the country," Temple said.
"Female players are getting some really good coaching in their own region nowadays and that’s helping them make the step up to age group teams.
"Even in national cup competitions we’re already seeing teams like Massey, Waterside Karori and Coastal Spirit begin to challenge the Northern region teams.’
Goalkeeper Lily Alfeld, defender Megan Lee and Midfielder Hannah Carlsen all return for their second U-17 World Cup after competing in Trinidad and Tobago 2010, while a quartet of 14 and 15 year olds - Daisy Cleverley, Martine Puketapu, Emily Oosterhof and Christensen - are all young enough to compete in the 2014 edition as well.
"It’s great we can create continuity from the last cycle to this one and on to the next as every little bit of international experience will help young teams adjust to the pace and demands of World Cup football."
Specifically, those demands in Azerbaijan will see the Young Football Ferns face testing games against Mexico, Japan and Brazil but Temple is confident his side can foot it on the big stage while playing their part in a wider story of women’s football in New Zealand.
"We’re focussed on a bigger picture with a philosophy on developing players who are competent on the ball and are comfortable in position even in tight areas and under pressure.
"The women’s game is developing all the time but if we can focus on building those sought of skills then we can stay ahead of the development curve and produce players who can ultimately contribute to successful senior New Zealand teams.
"That said, at this tournament the players will go into every match with belief and even the best teams at this level are vulnerable at different times.
"There is sometimes a defensive naivety to teams which leads some pretty entertaining and free-flowing games. What we are confident in is that we have players with pace and technique to hurt some teams."
Young Football Ferns squad for FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Azerbaijan 2012
1-Lily ALFELD (Coastal Spirit)
16-Ronisa LIPI (Waterside Karori)
20-Emma TAYLOR (Glenfield Rovers)
2-Meikayla MOORE (Coastal Spirit)
3-Laura MERRIN (Coastal Spirit)
4-Catherine BOTT (Lynn Avon United)
5-Emily JENSEN (Three Kings United)
12-Megan ROBERTSON (Waterside Karori)
13-Megan LEE (Lynn Avon United)
21-Courteney van LIESHOUT (Pukekohe)
6-Hannah CARLSEN (captain) (Lynn Avon United)
8-Daisy CLEVERLEY (Lynn Avon United)
10-Emma FLETCHER (Vancouver Whitecaps, CAN)
14-Jessica INNES (Glenfield Rovers)
15-Lauren DABNER (Coastal Spirit)
7-Jasmine PEREIRA (Three Kings United)
9-Martine PUKETAPU (Three Kings United)
11-Briar PALMER (Waterside Karori)
17-Emily OOSTERHOF (Glenfield Rovers)
18-Emma ROLSTON (Waterside Karori)
19-Tayla CHRISTENSEN (Melville United)
Head Coach: Paul TEMPLE
Assistant Coach: Brett ANGELL
Goalkeeper Coach: Nigel PIPER
Team Manager: Claire HAMILTON
Sports Scientist: Craig HARRISON
Physiotherapist: Anna BARLOW
Team Doctor: Penelope DAY
Technical Analyst: Claudia CRASBORN
New Zealand schedule
New Zealand v Mexico
Bayil Stadium, Baku
3pm (10pm NZT)
New Zealand v Japan
8km Stadium, Baku
8pm (3am 27/9 NZT)
New Zealand v Brazil
8km Stadium, Baku
2pm (9pm NZT)
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