Soccer producing stars of future
By STEVE SPINKS
DON'T be surprised if a large number of former Soccer Far North Coast women representatives end up following in the footsteps of Lismore's Lisa Casagrande and play for Australia.
It's not that getting into the Matildas is an easy task.
It's just that the strength of soccer in the region in the women's ranks is steadily increasing.
This is highlighted by the continued success of the North Coast Flames in the summer competition.
The Flames won their season opener last Saturday night with a gritty 3-2 victory over the Gold Coast.
Most of the squad is still eligible for junior football.
Ten of the squad of 18 players are under the age of 18.
Considering the Flames compete in open competition, it's a compliment to the skill of the younger players.
In fact the 10 players ? Rachel Cooper, Sam Small, Whitney McNall, Abbey Moss, Renae McIntosh, Kara Sutton, Anna Gulliver, Hannah Brown, Jessie Ford and Sam Smith ? all turned out for the Soccer FNC Under-17 team this year.
Moss, Cooper, McIntosh and Sutton were further selected to represent Northern NSW at the Australian championships earlier in the year.
"The standard of women's soccer is high," coaching and development manager for Soccer FNC, Tim Jerks, said.
"The first division women's comp is the best it's been in a lot of seasons.
"We have a lot of good young girls coming through.
"Traditionally soccer is a male-dominated sport, but the girls are switching to it, I think, because of its physical nature."
Jerks said many of the girls had the potential to play for the Matildas, but he admitted they would have to leave the area to further their representative careers.