FOUR Newcastle Jets Academy girls have been selected in the Australia squad for the upcoming Asian Football Confederation Under-16 Women’s Championship qualifiers in Vientiane, Laos.
Junior Matildas coach Rae Dower named a 23-player squad at the weekend following recent selection trials.
Josie Morley, Teagan Douglas, Kirsty Fenton and Ruby Jones were selected in the squad and will head to a training camp on the Gold Coast in late February before their first match in Laos on March 3.
The side will play three games; first up against Iran, then Veitnam (March 5) and Laos (March 7).
Newcastle Jets Academy and W-League coach Craig Deans said it was pleasing to have four players in the squad and there easily could have been more.
“We actually had 10 go down to take part in a game that they ultimately picked the squad from,” he said.
“We’re pretty happy with the young players that are coming through in the girls side of the academy.”
Deans said the matches in Laos presented not only an opportunity for the girls to progress their football, but to learn valuable life skills.
“It’s very, very difficult to get through Asia and qualify,” he said.
“As an experience, it’s excellent for the players. They have to learn to travel away from home and go to some countries where their eyes are probably going to open a little bit to how the world works in places like that.
“It’s a big footballing challenge, but also the other side of football that most people don’t put a great deal of emphasis on. But you need to learn to go somewhere that’s uncomfortable and show a little bit of mentality, in terms of resilience.”
The three matches are the second round of qualifiers. Australia breezed through the first round last year, winning all four matches.
The side will require a top two finish in their pool in Laos to advance to the 2019 AFC U-16 Women’s Championship in September.
That tournament serves as the qualification process for the 2020 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
Surf Life Saving branch carnival
Fingal Beach Surf Life Saving Club hosted the 100th Hunter Branch Surf Lifesaving Championships at the weekend with a massive contingent of competitors across the age groups.
In the under-14 ironperson events, Cooks Hill Surf Life Saving Club dominated both the male and female races.
The club took a clean sweep of the podium in the male race, with Charlie Walker winning, Jack Breasley second and Dylan Danuser third.
Isabella Campbell won the female race, followed by Hayley Snowden in second and Kaylee Dowsett in third. Both placegetters were from Swansea-Belmont SLSC.