Lucas Imrie (Sacred Heart College) - The New Zealand U17 striker was in prolific form in 2016 netting 20 goals in 14 premiership matches. Lucas has been Sacred Heart's leading goal scorer for two years and was a key member in a National title winning team. Imrie was selected for the New Zealand U20's and plays senior football for Western Springs in Auckland.
Hannah Blake (Saint Kentigern College) - Hannah Blake knows how to find the back of the net. The striker was part of the Three Kings United side this year in their unbeaten club season. Hannah contributed 24 goals in 18 matches. She helped St Kent’s to third place behind winners MAGS in the NZSS Nationals, before transferring her talent to the New Zealand U17 side that competed in the Fifa U17 Women’s World Cup in Jordan. At that tournament, Hannah scored a memorable hat-trick and set up another goal in New Zealand’s 5-0 win over hosts Jordan, which was their first win at this tournament overseas. Currently with the NZ U20 team at the Fifa U20 Women's World Cup.
Jake Mechelll (St. Peter's, Cambridge) - The Melville United midfielder enhanced his growing reputation in 2016 by leading his First XI back to the Nationals and being selected for the Nike Academy Most Wanted Global Showcase in England. Mechelll has been selected for the New Zealand Secondary Schools and U19 squads.
Grace Jale (MAGS) - The midfielder was this year’s Mount Albert Grammar School Female sportsperson of the year, and for good reason too. She helped MAGS win a four-peat of NZSS Girls Football titles. She was then part of the New Zealand U17 team that competed in the Fifa Women’s U17 World Cup in Jordan and was subsequently selected in NZ's U20 team for this month’s U20 Women’s World Cup. Last year she toured Brazil with the senior Football Ferns.
Paige Satchell (Orewa College) - In June Paige Satchell made her full Football Ferns debut in two internationals against the Australian Matildas Paige made the team after relocating to Auckland from Rotorua at the start of the year and training hard and playing for her successful Three Kings United club side, part of a front three that also included Hannah Blake (above) that scored 109 goals this season. Later in the year Paige was selected in the wider Football Ferns Olympics Games squad for Rio and for the NZ U20 team competing in the Fifa U20 Women’s World Cup this month.
If it wasn’t for an unfortunate injury, Jacqui Hand would still be kitting up for Auckland in the National Women’s League and preparing for her end of year school exams.
Instead, the 17-year old finds herself joining fellow New Zealand U-17 team mates Hannah Blake, Grace Jale, Nadia Olla and Malia Steinmetz in jetting off to their second FIFA age-group World Cup in as many months.
Hand earned a late call up to Leon Birnie’s 21-strong squad for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea due to an unfortunate injury to midfielder Juliana Los.
“I was really happy to be called into the U-20 squad,” says Hand.
“To be chosen by the coaching staff made me feel quite honoured and I can’t wait to go to the U-20 Women’s World Cup, it’s going to be amazing.”
New Zealand U-17 Head Coach Gareth Turnbull says Hand is deserving of her call up and believes it is a perfect example for any aspiring footballer that opportunities can be just around the corner.
“Through Jacqui’s performances over the past 12 months we are excited at the level of potential she possesses, thus is deserving of this late call up.”
“It highlights that opportunities can sometimes just be around the corner, so it’s always important for young players to continue to show their qualities at every occasion.”
Hand was able to show her qualities on the world stage in Jordan recently for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
“Jordan was amazing. It was an awesome country to visit and to play with and against all the top players in the world was an incredible experience.”
“It is something I had dreamed of since I was a little girl,” she adds.
Hand believes her time in Jordan gave her invaluable experience and now knows what to expect when it comes to attending such events like the upcoming U-20 World Cup.
“Training and playing in a hot country, eating different foods and staying in hotels with the team has given me invaluable experience, as well as living like a professional athletes and being amongst the best football players in the world.”
When 2018 comes around, the Eastern Suburbs attacker will have two World Cups under her belt and hopes to use that experience to her advantage in France for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
“I want to be able to use the experience to show leadership and help the team in 2018.”
And, what about those end of year school exams? Not to worry, the talented teen has already gained her NCEA Level 3.
“I will be missing my school exams, but I was advised earlier in the year that if I do go to the World Cup my practice exams in the middle of the year will count instead. So, I worked hard during the year and passed them all.”
The kiwis are in pool C and will meet Ghana in their opening group match on November 14 before taking on the United states and France on November 17 and 21 respectively.
Article written and supplied by: Steph Trowill, Auckland Football Federation.
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