First goal for Lismore girl

LAANI Winkler-Harding was caught by surprise when she won selection in the NSW Public Schools Sports Association soccer team.

Imagine her surprise now on being the first ever girl from Lismore to make the team.

While girls from Alstonville, Ocean Shores and surrounding areas have been picked in the past, Laani is the only Lismore girl to have won selection in the team.

“I was very surprised,” the 12-year-old Year 6 Wyrallah Road Primary School student said.

“I hoped to make the team but I didn't really expect it because they were all very good.”

The midfield specialist was one of 14-girls picked in the squad from 196 players at the NSW championships.

Mum Kim Winkler said the selection was an honour felt by the whole family.

“I was a mess when they named her. I had a few tears,” Ms Winkler said.

“They play so hard and that's what they all want to do and it's chosen from the best girls in NSW.

“For someone from a country town and for my girl to make it, it makes me very proud.”

Ms Winkler said it was the culmination of young life-time of dedication to the sport.

“Her father Neal has played for 31 years and I played and all the family play so it's in the blood basically,” she said. “She started playing competitively in Under-6s as a five-year-old and was the leading scorer for her team when she was playing against boys.”

Laani now plays for Thistles Under-13s and is also a member of the Football Far North Coast representative squad that plays in the Queensland youth league.

Laani will be a part of the NSW side to contest the national titles in Melbourne in September.

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