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Full stretch: Arrowtown-raised Anna Leat dives full stretch to punch clear a cross against France in the U20s World Cup

By MATTHEW MCKEW

Olympic football beckons for an Arrowtown-raised goal keeping sensation who’s hoping she can play a hand in bringing home a medal for New Zealand.

Anna Leat’s no stranger to the international stage, either, having played an integral role in the history-making Junior Ferns team that came third in the 2018 under-17 World Cup.

She’d already competed in the U20s edition earlier that year, and now she’s gone one better, being named in the Football Ferns 2021 Tokyo Olympics squad.

When Leat, 20, lived in the Whakatipu she was better known for throwing punches (in karate) than catching the ball — she qualified in karate to tour Japan, aged seven.

Mum Jackie says it’s taken an incredible amount of dedication and personal sacrifice from her daughter to get where she is.

The family moved to Auckland to help her realise her dreams — at just 15 she made her international debut for the senior women’s football side, she went on to play for Georgetown University, in the States, and will be looking to put herself in the shop window at the Olympics for a pro contract.

Jackie, who works at Millbrook Resort, says she’s ‘‘incredibly proud’’ of her daughter, but gutted Covid means she can’t be in the stadium to cheer her on.

‘‘They are up for the challenge … and we’ve got watch parties organised.’’

The Ferns have been drawn against reigning champions, United States, trans-Tasman
rivals Australia and Sweden for the group stage, which starts July 21.

Meantime, the men’s side features Queenstown’s newest-adopted son Callan Elliot,
whose parents are now living in the resort, having moved from Nelson.

matthew.mckew@scene.co.nz