Maycenvale v Stop Out
Women's KO Cup
Akina Park, Hastings
If you ask Rebecca Brown she'll tell you things perhaps could have been a little different when it comes down to her soccer career.
No, the Maycenvale Misfits player doesn't harbour any disappointments or regrets.
"I'm happy with what I've done," says the 21-year-old defender/midfielder before the Misfits host Stop Out in the opening round of the ASB Women's Knockout Cup qualifiers at St Leonard's Park, Hastings, tomorrow from 1pm.
In Hawke's Bay for her final year of physiotherapy degree placement at Cape Physio in Havelock North, Brown will be one of the most experienced players on the field for a predominantly teenage brigade of players competing in the national knockout cup competition for almost five years.
An Otago University student from Auckland, she played for the New Zealand age-group team in the inaugural women's under-17 World Cup staged in New Zealand in 2008, which included arguably the best field player to hail from the Bay, Claudia Crasborn, a midfielder used predominantly as a defender.
Brown started as fullback in all games, including the 3-1 win against Colombia in Wellington in a cup where the Kiwis lost 1-0 to Canada and 2-1 to Denmark in pool play to miss the playoffs.
"It was a really exciting time with a lot of hard work and the results were worth it," says the former Eastern Suburbs AFC (Auckland) player who also represented Northern AFC (Dunedin), founded in 1888 and claims to be the oldest soccer club in New Zealand and Australia.
After the cup, she returned to Auckland where she had to make a decision on carrying on with a soccer career or going to university - the latter won.
"There was a lot of training throughout my life as a teenager so I just wanted a break.
"I still love playing and it's good to keep it up although it's obviously not at the same level," says Brown, who endeavours to go on her big OE "to see a bit of the world although I don't know where just yet" when she finishes here at the end of the year.
While not going on to Football Ferns level, she reflects on what could have been different but certainly not disappointed.
Self-driven in many ways, Brown started kicking around a ball from the age of 7 with the encouragement of her father, Dave Brown, a competitive player at school in his heyday.
She then saw older brother, Chris Brown, now 24, playing and thought why not give it a go, and the rest is history.
The Maycenvale environment has struck a chord with her although the balmy temperature and hard grounds so far in the season take a little getting used to.
"The young girls are passionate and enthusiastic about the game," she says, adding if the Laura Wallis-captained team play as a unit, which they have most part to date, they should make Stop Out uncomfortable tomorrow.
Vale coach Craig Barkle reckons the Wellingtonians will be tough in a Bay's club's first foray into the national competition in several years.
"If we get past them there's Massey University or some other Manawatu team so I'm not expecting to go very far," says Barkle, thanking his club's board for committing to pay about $300 a game in entry fees.
While the Misfits have an enviable record in the Bay women's league, the coach says the standard of the league here isn't strong considering the region consistently loses quality players to other regions due primarily to a lack of university.
"We have very good juniors but never a top team here."
While it's not practical right now, some thought may be given to commuting to Manawatu and Wellington next season for better competition provided the funding is there.
Stop Out's Elliott Taylor, in his first year at the helm of a women's outfit at the club, says they are no different to the Misfits with an average age of 17, bar a goalkeeper who is 40.
"We want to continue growing the women's game at our club so we have a good balance of four teams," says Taylor, after taking his team to an Auckland City under-17 tourney recently.
Stop Out are sitting in second place in their Capital City league after losing their opening game 1-0 to leaders Brooklyn Northern United.
Maycenvale are in a similar position after four rounds, having lost 1-0 to Bay league leaders Napier Marist in their first match this season.
Tomorrow, the hosts' midfield will have to work the ball into the 18m box rather than individuals having pot-shots from further out or taking on defenders when players are in better positions to finish.
Taylor says Stop Out have had a steady start but he'll be disappointed if they don't finish in the top three.
"I've done some research on Maycenvale and know they're quite a successful side so we'll have a lot of respect for them, but it'll be a great experience for the girls and a day to enjoy, too," he says of Stop Out, who lost to Valeron (Palmerston North) in their first round of the national knockout cup match last year.
For the first round of ASB Women's Knockout Cup (New Zealand) qualifiers kicking off at 1pm at St Leonard's Park, Hastings, tomorrow:
MAYCENVALE MISFITS: Grace Fulford (GK), Natasha Little, Christina Glassey, Chante Crasborne, Holleigh Ellis, Shannon Newlyn, Maneka Singh, Laura Wallis (c), Rebecca Brown, Aneka Nieuwenhuis, Erika McCarthy-Lay,
Isobel Boyd, Lauren Hartridge, Sarah Morton, Rose Morton, Claudia Barham.
Coach: Craig Barkle.
STOP OUT: 1. Kath McGuinness (GK), 2. Kathryn Burt, 3. Kelsey O'Connor, 4. Aimee Sanson, 5. April Gallagher, 6. Danielle Duggan, 7. Alysa Darby, 8. Melanie MacDougall (c), 9. Melissa Adams, 10. Laura Dobie, 11. Maddy Nash, 12. Olivia Browne, 13. Natasha Ingram, 14. Steph Bremner, 15. Adele Lonergan, 16. Amalia Lipidis, 17. Jade Morrissey.
Coach: Elliott Taylor.