Playing with pride

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Two young Queenstown football stars represented their country on a three-match tour in Sydney earlier this month.

Alex Tutty and Nieve Collin, both 15, were selected to play for the New Zealand secondary schools under-15 team against three different New South Wales Academy sides.

The pair were thrilled to get the chance to play alongside the country’s best girls in their age group during their first match outside New Zealand.

Goalkeeper Alex, who boards at St Andrew’s College in Christchurch, says “it was an amazing experience”.

“All the girls were really talented and really good.

“The most exciting part was representing the country. I never thought I would.

“We played three games – we won one, lost one and drew one.

“I hope to play with them again. The next year would be an under-17 camp.”

Alex used to play for Queenstown when she was younger and was picked for the 2018 Future Pride Development Programme along with 15 other squad members.

She was selected after trials ended late last year and then trained three times a week.

The girls played against NSW Academy’s under-15, 16 and 17 teams during the tour, held from July 8-14.

Nieve, who’s played for Queenstown AFC for two seasons, says “it felt like all my hard work had paid off”.

“Running on to the pitch for the first time with the fern on my chest was an amazing experience.

“It’s not every day that a 15-year-old gets to represent her country. That alone is a huge honour and privilege.”

The Wakatipu High School pupil, who plays as striker/midfielder, recalls how good it felt to sing the national anthem surrounded by her teammates.

“The last game we played was definitely the hardest and fastest game of football I’ve ever played, and the standard was amazing.”

Nieve now wants to start training with boys in Queenstown to challenge herself and keep improving.

Meanwhile, Queenstown Association Football Club’s men’s senior team lost 5-0 to Nelson away in the Southern Football League on Saturday – after taking three flights to get there. QAFC face Christchurch team Coastal Spirit at Queenstown Events Centre this Saturday, kick-off 1pm.

joshua.walton@scene.co.nz