First the win and then it's party time

By Anne-Marie Emerson

But I can't miss the Masters - it's compulsory.Jacinta Graves, member of the Wanganui Athletics women's soccer team

Members of the Wanganui Athletics women's soccer team don't let partying get in the way of a gold medal.

The team took top spot in the women's division of the 11-a-side soccer at the weekend, beating Taranaki in the final at Wembley Park yesterday morning.

Team members Jacinta Graves and Caren Steed said the team's ethic was to play hard and party hard.

"We want to win, but we want to have fun as well," Ms Graves said.

"We were aiming for gold - nothing less would have been good enough - but we certainly don't need a gold medal to celebrate."

The team, now in its fifth Masters Games, is made up of a hodge-podge of various teams that comes together every two years for the games.

Most members are Wanganui-based and while some do play for Wanganui Athletic, others play for different teams.

"We've played together and played against each other for about 10 years now, and we know each other well," Ms Steed said.

There's an international flavour to the team, with three German former representative players, and a goalkeeper from the United States.

Ms Graves is now based in Foxton and doesn't play soccer regularly at all.

"But I can't miss the Masters - it's compulsory," she said with a laugh.

Their first match of the tournament was an easy win - 9-1 - but they ground out a 1-0 win over Taranaki in the final after beating them 3-2 in pool play.

"Our old enemies are the Cambridge team but they're not here this year, so this year our major rivals have been Taranaki," Ms Graves said.

They admit they're getting a little older and a little creakier but that hasn't dampened their enthusiasm for the game they love.

And with another medal under their belts, you can be sure there was plenty of partying last night.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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