To her surprise, 17-year-old Queenstown footballer Madi McLean recently got her first taste of National League Championship football.
Earlier this month, the Southern United under-18 vice-captain was preparing to play the Central U18s in Palmerston North when she was asked to sit on the bench for the Southern United women’s side.
Though Madi was in the women’s wider squad, she’d not anticipated breaking into the playing side as they’d had such a strong, settled squad.
With about eight minutes to go, Madi got the call-up — ‘‘I was really nervous’’.
Playing in her favoured centre-mid position, she says she was pretty happy with how she went, nearly managing an assist.
Madi says she started playing football when she was about 7 but became more competitive when she was 12.
In 2021, she was vice-captain of the Wakatipu High girls’ team, then captain both last year and this.
She’s also been vice-captain for the past two seasons of the Queenstown Rovers women’s team who’ve won the Football South ODT Women’s Championship Cup back-to-back.
Last year she made the new Southern United U18 team, which notched up three wins this year.
Madi’s also been nominated onto a regional women in leadership programme which aims to grow the women’s game.
‘‘I really want, especially in the Queenstown region, to get these high school girls into women’s football; there’s so many who just
stop playing sport.’’
Next year she hopes to crack Southern United’s main squad.