Rookie Football Ferns goalkeeper Anna Leat is getting her head around the fact she is on tour with the national team at the Cyprus Cup.
The 15-year-old from East Coast Bays was one of three uncapped players named in the Ferns squad for the Cyprus Cup, alongside midfielder Malia Steinmetz and forward Martine Puketapu, and she is hoping to make the most of her first international tour.
Leat, who was impressive at the FIFA U-17 World Cup last year in Jordan, said it was a special moment when she was called up to the senior team.
“I wasn’t really expecting it, I was in shock at first but then as it started to set in I just got more and more excited,” said Leat. “I went and told my mum and dad in the lounge. I ran in and we were all pretty excited.”
The news could be even better for Leat as Football Ferns coach Tony Readings has indicated that he will use all of his squad at some stage on this tour.
“The Cyprus Cup is a different beast,” he said. “You play four games in not a lot of time so how we utilise player and manage them is going to be a really big part of how successful we are. The opportunities for these players to get significant game time is a lot higher on this tour. I am hoping the new players take this opportunity with both hands and are not just there to make up the numbers.”
With four games in eight days, and only one other keeper in the squad in the experienced Erin Nayler, it is likely that Leat will see some game time on this tour. She is focused on working hard in training and learning as much as she can.
Leat said the team dynamics are similar to other age-group teams she has been part of but the standards with such high quality players are at a different level. She has found the early stages quite intimidating as she gets used to the feeling of being team-mates with players she has held as heroes for many years.
“Some of them I’ve looked up as a kid for a while and then getting to be on tour with them is pretty surreal but I’m just trying to learn as much from them as I can and take as much out of it as possible to become a better player from it,” she said.
Leat has shown she is good enough to not be overawed. In December, Readings threw her in the deep-end when he had her starting in goal for New Zealand A against Thailand in the opener at Mt Smart Stadium. Leat was up for the challenge.
She made a number of telling saves early in the game which proved crucial in the 2-0 win and Leat said it was pleasing to get some game time and learn the formation of the senior team.
Leat feels that her club football experience, where she often plays with the boys at East Coast Bays, has helped her transition to step up to the higher levels of international football.
She has set simple goals for this tour; to get as much game time as possible and learn from a squad that includes five players with more than 100 caps to their names.
“I just want to learn what it’s like being on tour with Ferns and just try to become better from it.”
You get the feeling that Anna Leat is going to be part of the Football Ferns for a long time.
Football Ferns' fixtures at the Cyprus Cup in NZ times:
Scotland Thursday 2 March 1.30am
Austria Saturday 4 March 1.30am
Republic of Korea Tuesday 7 March 4.30am
Playoff match Thursday 9 March TBC
For more on the Cyprus Cup visit http://www.cypruswomenscup.net/fixtures
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