Te Awamutu College head girl Atareipounamu Crown has been selected for the 2021 New Zealand Under-18 Māori Ngā Māreikura Girls team.
The Te Awamutu College 1st XV and Kihikihi rugby club halfback attended the National Under-18 Ngā Māori Māreikura Development Camp in Rotorua during July and obviously impressed.
"This year will hopefully be the first year that the girls get to wear the jersey and play a game, and it would be amazing if I could be a part of it," Crown told the Te Awamutu Courier in July.
"They've never actually had a team for the girls. They've always just had the boys because they've never had anyone to play."
Now the selection has become a reality for her.
"When I got the call, I had my parents listening in and when I was told I had made selection, it was like one of my dreams had become reality, both myself and my parents were overwhelmed with joy," she says.
"I guess being able to be given a chance to represent your country and culture would mean so much to anyone like it does me, but it not only means a lot to myself but to my friends, family and most of all, my iwi [Rereahu/Waikato].
"Being a part of this squad is extra special as it is the first ever national Māreikura team and to be able to share this opportunity with these girls feels amazing."
The likes of Otago Spirit Farah Palmer Cup player Keely Hill also made the cut for the squad of 23.
The girls have a campaign from October 10-17 and play two games during that week.
On October 13 they will play Bay of Plenty in Rotorua and on October 16 they verse Waikato Under-20 in Hamilton.
"As there are no international teams to play against, we're very lucky to have the opportunity to play these games," says Crown.
A further match for the New Zealand Māori Under-18 Ngā Whatukura Boys team and the New Zealand Māori Under-18 Ngā Māreikura Girls team will be announced in due course.