Players came together from across NZ for the first time as the Under 15 New Zealand Secondary School squad on the 8th July, the day before they flew to Sydney to play three games against three age-group New South Wales State representative and University teams. Most of the squad, including Niamh, were at the NZ U15 ID camp in April, so were familiar with each other.
The team were based at the Valentine Sports Park facilities, headquarters of NSW Football. It provided players with an experience of an environment that included on-site training and playing facilities, swim recovery sessions and structured nutrition both pre-and post-game.
The first game was an evening game against the NSW U15 team, with NZ coming away with a 2-1 win. Niamh came on as a substitute midway through the game.
The second game came the day after against the Sydney University SFC U17 team, who were sitting at the top of the ladder in the NPL NSW Women’s U17 competition. NZ had a number of chances to win the game but were happy to come away with a 0-0 draw against a physically dominant team.
Niamh started and played a full game in the third and final game to finish off the tour, which was against the U16 NSW State Academy team. This side had a number of older players filling in that included a member of the Young Matilda’s squad. Against an older group this was always going to be a fiercely contested game. NZ did extremely well for the first third but were 3-0 down at half time. In the 2nd half, NZ worked hard and absorbed a lot of the pressure for a large period of the half with their efforts rewarded with a goal early in the second half. NSW responded by increasing the tempo and unfortunately the tiring NZ team couldn’t sustain the pressure, with the final score being 6-1.
Niamh really enjoyed the trip as a great football experience with many memories and many new friends.