WHEN Kobie Ferguson stepped out against reigning Herald Women’s Premier League major premiers Adamstown in round one this year, she was more than a bit nervous – and for good reason.
Not only was she playing her first game of senior football, she was doing it at age 13 as a central midfielder.
But Ferguson, who celebrated her 14th birthday in late March, proved an integral part of the Emerging Jets under-18 girls side, who are now second in their debut season in the WPL first-grade competition after 10 rounds.
The Hunter Sports High School year 9 student is one of several players under 16 years of age in the squad taking on the likes of Jets W-League captain and former Matilda Hayley Crawford.
‘‘It’s really good. I’m enjoying stepping up and playing against the older girls at such a young age and playing against the best girls in Newcastle,’’ Ferguson said.
‘‘I was really nervous about it at first, but I just thought I’d take it one step at a time and try and improve a lot at training.
‘‘I’ve obviously improved over time and this has built my confidence a lot, playing against older girls.’’
Emerging Jets coach Wayne O’Sullivan said Ferguson had shown skills and composure beyond her years to play ‘‘a very significant role’’ in the side.
‘‘The mindset a lot of the time is to play younger players outside the game to give them an opportunity to see the game and find the speed of it, but it’s really not a problem for Kobie,’’ O’Sullivan said.
‘‘When we talk about technical players and the emphasis of what we want to do, she’s right in amongst it.
‘‘She’s not blessed with raw speed, and a lot of the time the younger girls who are identified and pushed forward quickly are the ones who are more powerful and quicker.
‘‘Kobie is only medium-sized for her age, but technically she is very strong and she has great awareness, therefore you can play her in the middle of the game and it’s not a problem.’’
He said Ferguson had come along in leaps and bounds in her time with the Emerging Jets by doing the hard yards.
‘‘Every eight weeks, the players are given formal assessments based on FFA standardised testing, and Kobie’s first assessment was not great,’’ he said.
‘‘But she has a very good work ethic and over the next eight weeks she was very good and she improved out of sight.’’
Ferguson has been going up against and impressing opponents she hopes to one day join in the national W-League competition and beyond.
‘‘I’ve always looked up to the Matildas and it would be a dream come true to play for them when I’m older,’’ Ferguson said.
‘‘But it would also be a dream come true to play in the W-League as well. That’s what I’m aiming to do.’’
In the short-term, Ferguson is hoping to help the Northern NSW under-15 side win the National Youth Championship for girls in Coffs Harbour in July.
It will be her third national age titles.
In under 13s, Ferguson made the All Stars side, which was selected from performances at the national tournament.
Ashlee Brodigan is another player born in 1999 who is in the under-18 Emerging Jets side and competing at the national titles.
Emerging Jets Lisa Cochrane, Maddison Dean, Jorjia Hogg, Kalista Hunter, Corinne Krupa, Beth Le Gay Brereton, Sophie Nenadovic, Sophie O’Brien, Hannah Southwell and Clare Wheeler also made the NNSW under 15s.