By MARJORIE COOK
Five Queenstown female footballers are making great strides in their quest to achieve national age-group status.
Peyton Robertson, 16, Madi McLean, 15, and Saffron Millar, Keely Osborne and Bianca Lupi, all 14 — playing in the under-17s — dedicated the first week of their school holidays to a Southern United Academy training camp in Dunedin.
Coach Mark Ford says the girls did really well over ‘‘a pretty full-on’’ four days of games, training sessions and seminars.
The academy gives U15 and U17 female players a chance to come together from across the
The team travelled to Timaru for two games against the strong Mainland Football Federation, losing 2-1 and drawing 1-1.
It also played games again Roslyn, Southland and Central Otago teams.
Madi, Peyton and Saffron have been on other Southern United team camps but this was the first time for strikers Bianca and Keely, who both scored on debut.
Bianca scored one goal while Keely, playing for Central Otago, continued her fine recent form and scored two.
‘‘All the girls performed superbly and can be very proud of their efforts,’’ Ford says.
‘‘I know myself and the club are very proud of them.
‘‘They also had seminars, yoga, stretching, talks on how to deal with disappointment and setbacks.
‘‘There was a lot of health and wellbeing.’’
The girls’ aim is to be named in the Football South squad for the national age-group tournament in Wellington in December.
Because most local women’s footy teams are social or youth, the Queenstown Rovers
women play in the Dunedin women’s premier division — the only team outside Dunedin in the division.
Ford says the club’s been working really hard at getting more girls and women into football, and developing a pathway to achievement.
‘‘It’s such a supportive environment.
‘‘It’s all down to those senior girls who take the younger ones under their wings and look