Football: Schoolgirls pass senior test

By Greg Taipari

Her dad may be her coach but Taelor Parker doesn't expect any extra privileges when it comes to playing football.

The 15-year-old is expected to work just as hard as any other player in the Rotorua United women's team.

It appears to be paying off too, for Taelor and three of her teammates; Halee Smith 16, Helen Talbot 16, from Rotorua Girls' High School and Mianna Laing 17, a Western Heights student.

The quartet recently returned from a tournament in Canberra vying for a spot in an ANZAC team which will do a tour to the United Kingdom in September.

About 450 players, mainly from Australia, attended the tournament. The girls impressed the selectors so much that they were all named in the senior women's ANZAC squad.

Taelor puts their selection down to the hard work put in by them and their coach, her dad Phil Parker.

In fact, all the girls agreed in unison, the player they most admired was Phil Parker.

Taelor, a Year 13 student at Western Heights High School, said she enjoyed having her dad as her coach.

"He's really tough but he's fair. Like he doesn't give me any extra [privileges] at all. When I'm at training and games. I'm just another player. I'm not a daughter, I'm just a player, which is really good."

Taelor said being the coach's daughter sometimes put pressure on her to try harder but it didn't worry her.

"There is so much more pressure because he expects so much out of you because you have to set the example, because [my] father is the coach, so I don't want to let him down."

Teammate Halee, one of the strikers, said the opportunity to travel to England was a huge opportunity the girls were looking forward too.

"We've got to raise the money first. It's a lot of money but we're a determined lot."

The four girls have to raise about $6000 each if they want to make the trip where they will be joined by another Rotorua youngster, Daniel Marsdon.

The Kaharoa Primary School pupil also travelled to Canberra in the new year and was selected in the under-11 ANZAC team.

His squad will play fixtures in Japan in September. The 10-year-old said he was excited about the trip.

Daniel, who enjoys playing touch and mountain biking said he would like to play professional football one day. But at this stage, he was just happy to carry on playing football with his mates and maybe join the Ngongotaha Football Club next season.

The five youngsters are part of the Coerver Coaching International programme which offers focused training programmes designed to teach and improve football skills.

The organisation has four centres - in Auckland, Rotorua, Tauranga and Whangarei.

Ngongotaha Football Club signed a contract with Coerver Coaching at the start of last year, picking up young footballers in the city for professional coaching.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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