Who are the teams to beat in Premier Girls Football this year at Winter Tournament Week?
Will Mount Albert Grammar School prevail for the third straight year, or a new champion be crowned in Taupo next week?
Last month, MAGS won their seventh straight Auckland league title, beating Takapuna Grammar School 2-1 in the final (winning team pictured above). They followed that up recently with a 7-0 win over St Kentigern College in the final of the Auckland Knockout Cup final. Takapuna and St Kent’s are both also in the main draw at Crown Park, Taupo.
MAG Girls football captain Rebekah Van Dort explained her team is again looking forward to the challenge of being defending champions.
“For us, next week will be one of the biggest highlights of our year,” Rebekah said, “we get to spend the whole week playing the sport we love and with and against the best players and teams.”
Rebekah said there’s no secret to their current team’s success – it’s hard work. “Our coach always tells us to always play with character and hunger, to go into every game humble and respect your opposition because you won’t play well if you don’t.”
The MAGS team will also be playing for their coach next week.
“Our coach Paul Marshall, who is also the Director of Football at MAGS, is leaving after the end of this tournament so this is a last send off for him, especially for us Year 13 girls as we’ve all been together for four years and it’s kind of like the last chance to win something together and under him.”
Rebekah said they hope to do well again, given the firepower they can field. “We have 10 girls who have all played football for New Zealand teams and three that went to last year’s U17 World Cup and another group who are training with the NZ U20 squad for the World Cup next year.”
Thirty two girls’ secondary school First XIs from around the country will meet in eight pools of four at the Taupo tournament. Pool play is on Monday and Tuesday, with the knockout rounds later in the week.
The last three winners have come from the Auckland region (MAGS in 2013 and 2014) and Rangitoto College (in 2012). St Peter’s, Cambridge (2011) were the last non-Auckland school to take the title.
The last South Island school to win this title was Christchurch’s Marian College (2009). This year, Rangi Ruru Girls’ School is the sole Christchurch representative in the Premier championship. The Rangi Ruru’s team made the Canterbury Division 1 grade for the first time in 2013 and last year they finished runner-up in the National Division 2 Kathy Seaward competition. Last week they beat St Andrew’s 4-1 to finish third in the Canterbury competition behind winners Rangiora High School.
Other South Island schools competing in the Premier division in Taupo are Southland Girls’ High School, who defeated Invercargill rival James Hargest College 3-0 in the recent Southland final, St Hilda’s Collegiate School, Columba College and Nelson College for Girls and Waimea College from the top of the South Island.
The Wellington region will be represented by Wellington East Girls’ College, Wellington Girls’ College and Hutt Valley High School – who were beaten by St Mary’s College 2-0 in the recent Wellington final.
Other central North Island schools competing include Wairarapa College, Sacred Heart College and New Plymouth Girls’ High School, Gisborne Girls’ High School, Tauranga Girls HS, Whakatane and Trident High School from the Bay of Plenty and St Peter’s Cambridge, Sacred Heart (Hamilton), Hillcrest HS and Hamilton GHS from the Waikato.
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