Natalie Olson was the joint golden boot winner at last year’s NZSS Lotto Premier Tournament and her Wellington East Girls’ College side finished 28th of 32 teams.
The now-year 13 striker found the back of the net nine times in Taupo, the same number as Hannah Pilley from tournament-winning school Baradene College.
“I didn’t really know Hannah then, but at the end of last year we went off to the NZSS trip to the USA and we became good friends, so it will be really good to see her again at this year’s tournament,” said Natalie as she and WEGC prepare for next week in Christchurch”
This will be Natalie’s fifth straight appearance in Winter Tournament Week NZSS Nationals. “This year we have got three year 9s in our squad, three year 13s and a big group of year 11s. I think it will be really good for the girls to be exposed to the high level and good for their experience in future years.”
“Back in 2017 we won a satellite tournament in Wellington to get back into the top tier but after that final we lost half our squad so we have been rebuilding so hopefully we can improve on last year when we go to Christchurch next week.”
Striker Natalie is the co-captain with centre back Helena Newport.
They have just finished fourth in Wellington Premier 1 competition. “We both train and play once a week for our school team. We lost our semi-final to Wellington Girls’ College and then lost our playoff for third to Paraparaumu College. We lost both on penalties.”
In club football, she plays for Wellington United who recently became back-to-back champions of the Women’s W League.
“Our coach has been really good in supporting us and the hard work paid off with the girls so this was a great win for us.”
Natalie was one of several schoolgirls in Wellington United’s squad.
After school nationals, Natalie will be playing in the National League, which runs from mid-September to mid-December.
She has been selected in the Central squad, which means she will be travelling to practice and play her home games in Palmerston North.
“It will be a new environment and tough, I have always played against many of my new teammates at national age-grade tournaments, but it will be good for me.”
Natalie started playing football when she was eight. “A girl and myself at my school used to go down to the concrete wall and play one-touch and from there I joined a club team and I scored a goal in my first game and have been a striker ever since.”
Last November she joined the New Zealand Women’s U19 Football team at the Dallas International Girls Cup tournament in Texas, her first time representing New Zealand. “We managed to get through to the next round, but lost to Columbia in penalties.”
Football isn’t her only passion – she also both plays and coaches futsal.
In July Natalie was part of the Capital U19 team that came second to Canterbury at the National Youth Futsal Championships. “I managed to get the golden boot for that tournament as well, which was pretty exciting.”
She also coaches the Wellington East Junior A futsal team. Last year this team were national champions and Natalie was the Student Coach of the Year recipient at the College Sport Wellington awards. This year they were runners-up to Saint Kentigern College.
She used to do some running as well, but now leaves that to her good friend Kirstie Rae who is the NZSS Senior Girls cross country champion and this past Saturday won the Australian Secondary Schools Cross Country race.
As well as playing for Central in the upcoming National League, she also has the small matter of NCEA Level 3 exams in November, which includes scholarship P.E, so that will keep her busy.
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