Anna’s fine footballing feat

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A product of Arrowtown School is one of nine finalists for New Zealand’s favourite sporting moment of 2018.

Arrowtown-raised goal-keeper Anna Leat was the hero of New Zealand’s Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay in November.

She saved a penalty shootout attempt against Japan, then slotted the winning one to put NZ into the first World Cup football semi-final this country’s ever reached.

NZ subsequently lost to Spain but then beat Canada in the third/fourth playoff to claim bronze.

Anna’s crucial goal is one of the ‘favourite sporting moments’ the public can vote for before the Halberg Awards on February 21.

“It’s pretty crazy,” the 17-year-old says during a visit down south.

“None of us went into it expecting anything.

“We were always going to do our best but no one had any idea where it could take us.”

Growing up in Arrowtown, Anna – who also made the senior Football Ferns at 15, just over two years ago – was just as good at karate.

At seven she was picked for a karate tour to Japan.

When her mum Jackie and dad Steve raised money for her trip by selling raffles and sausages, respectively, she asked what she could do.

At the time she was also learning guitar, so she went busking in Queenstown Mall, and has carried on ever since, even in Auckland after shifting there with her family seven years ago.

Anna says she first played goalie when she was rotated into that position at a game in Frankton.

“I just liked that you could make a difference in that position, and I liked the physicality of it.”

Jackie thinks she benefited here by playing in boys’ teams, including a Central Otago rep team that won a South Island tournament.

She’s also benefited from having sporty, competitive parents – Jackie played rep netball for Otago and Steve runs ultra-marathons.

“But she’s internally motivated to be successful in whatever she does, she likes to be the best she can be,” Jackie says.

She says the family moved to Auckland to give her and her brother Michael, who also played football, more opportunities. And it worked – by 13, Anna was training with the Football Ferns.

Her main aim this year’s to make the Women’s World Cup in France in June/July, after which she’ll take up a college sponsorship in the United States, most likely at Georgetown University, Washington D.C.

scoop@scene.co.nz