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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