FORMER Rotorua United player Paige Satchell has been selected for the New Zealand Football Ferns squad to face the Australian Matildas in June.
Satchell has been named as part of a 20-strong squad for the fixtures on June 4 and 7 in Ballarat and Melbourne - matches being used as preparation for the Rio Olympics.
The 18-year-old winger was picked this week after excelling in recent local training camps staged in Auckland, where her club, Three Kings United, which she joined last year, is based.
Satchell also played for local side Ngongotaha AFC until the age of 9, developed through the Waikato Bay of Plenty talent centre and was selected to play for Rotorua Reps.
"I was quite surprised to receive the call. It's something that I have been working towards but I didn't think the callup would come so quickly," Satchell said.
"It's very exciting and I can't wait to meet up with the whole squad and I really think we can do well in the two games.
"I made the move to Auckland to progress my career in football, and it's definitely paying off.
"Rotorua gave me a very strong start and I want to thank all the coaches who have guided me up to this level. The whole community has been incredibly supportive."
One of Satchell's longest serving mentors, Daryl Cogger, who was a development coach at the Waikato Bay of Plenty talent centre, and assisted the Rotorua United women's side, spotted her talent early on and believes the selection will inspire the next generation of Rotorua players.
"Paige is very disciplined and dedicated. She stood out immediately because of her speed and that is what the national squad really needs. Those sorts of players are deadly," he said.
"She can literally turn on a dime with the ball and has been fantastic to coach.
"Her selection is brilliant for the region because it allows kids to realise you can go through and compete at the highest level.
"It shows that anything is possible if you put in the hard work. Everybody back here is looking forward to following Paige's career and seeing how far she will go."
Satchell is one of the notable new inclusions in the squad alongside striker Jane Barnett and Football Ferns coach Tony Readings is impressed with what he has seen so far from the former John Paul College student. "The girls back here are training really hard and they have had opportunities to press their way in and that just shows in Jane and Paige being picked in this squad," he said. "We have picked an exciting squad which gives us plenty of attacking options."
The squad has not yet been announced for the Olympics but Readings will be using the upcoming friendlies to make a final selection and prepare the side for the tough opposition ahead in Rio. "We know that against the likes of Australia, and at the Olympics we are going to come up against USA, France and Colombia, we need to be much more effective in the way we attack. We are playing well enough to compete in football matches consistently and the next step is to turn those performances into results. We feel like we have picked a squad that is capable of doing that."
Satchell is hoping to make the cut, and also has sights on playing in the US in the future.
"I have always wanted to be playing in the Olympics, since I was a little girl," she said.
"And it is something that I am reaching for. I know it will be incredibly difficult to make that squad but it is important to set yourself dreams and targets.
"At the moment I want to get through the year in Auckland and or the future I am thinking about going overseas. America is at the top of the list at the moment.
"Rotorua is a big part of where I am now and I'll always remember that. I hope kids will be inspired and see that with hard work and dedication you can make it."