The 2022 National Youth Championships for Girls kicked off in Coffs Harbour on Monday with more than 350 of the best female under-14s and 16s players from across Australia taking part.
The tournament got underway with the opening ceremony with First Nations elder Uncle Richard Widders giving a Welcome to Country, while Junior Matildas head coach and Football Australia Women’s Technical Advisor Rae Dower spoke on the significance of the championships.
The tournament returned this year after two years away due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dower said she was excited about the great depth in Australian women’s football.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how many players we can identify that can look to take that next step to the next level and make their way potentially into a Junior Matildas program and onto a Young Matildas program in the next few years,” Dower said.
“We’re looking at players from across the country and this is a talent identification snapshot across the next five, six, seven, eight years of a player’s career where we get an opportunity to see how they play together and against the other best players in the country.
“The advice we always give to players is to smile and to breathe because this is just one snapshot in their entire career. It’s an opportunity for them to relax and enjoy themselves which means they’ll play their best football.”
A pristine playing surface and warm, sunny conditions greeted the players at C.ex Coffs International Stadium on Monday morning allowing plenty of quality football to be played.
In the under-14s tournament, NSW Metro enjoyed a perfect day with two wins from as many matches.
NSW Metro downed Victoria 4-1 in their opening match before beating Northern NSW 5-0 late in the day to sit on top of group A.
Elsewhere, Queensland downed South Australia 1-0 thanks to Emily Doring’s goal.
In group B, Western Australia put in the standout performance of the day as they saw off Northern Territory 5-1.
In the under-16s tournament, group A is wide open after a mixed day of results.
Northern NSW downed South Australia Red 6-1 before going down to Capital Football 2-0.
In group B, Queensland White scored a pair of 1-0 wins over South Australia Blue and Victoria White thanks to goals from Chloe Parker and Jasmine Whiteaker.
Play continues tomorrow with day two action, with the tournament to conclude on Friday.
The 2022 National Youth Championships for Boys will be played next week.