FIVE Southern Branch girls have proved they are among the best in the country thanks to a winning performance at the National Youth Championships.
Rhianna Brown, Lani Johnson, Shanae Webster, Pim Polhill and Brittany Anderson were a part of the NSW under 15s Country team which took out the championships held in Coffs Harbour from July 7 to 11.
The five Southern players were identified at the state titles in October, and then they had to go through a trial process to be selected in the Country NSW team.
They joined players from Eden out to the Riverina and Western areas.
“We had three divisions to pick girls from so we ended up with a pretty good rep team,” coach Jen Todd said.
Whereas the city teams train together often, the country girls had just two three-day camps to train together before nationals.
“I thought they trained extremely well- they were a really close-knit group,” Todd said.
“A lot of them had known each other since under 13s so they had extremely good team spirit, and it showed on the field.”
Country NSW was in the pool A championship and faced their toughest game on the first day, against the ever-strong NSW Metro.
But Country caused the upset of the competition when they came away victorious with a 1-nil win.
“NSW Metro usually take it out every year so they really were the team to beat,” Todd said.
“So naturally the girls were on top of the world when they beat them.”
Country continued their winning streak over the next two days with a 2-nil win over Victoria Metro and Northern NSW.
By the fourth day with one game to play, they were already crowned the national champions.
The NSW Country under 13 girls also won their B pool, so will progress to pool A in 2015.
Todd said there was a big celebration on Thursday night with the players and the many supporters who had travelled to Coffs Harbour to cheer them on.
“There is a Country song that has been going round for a few years and on the last day the under 13s and 15s got together to sing that,” she said.
Todd, based in Ulladulla, has been involved with Football NSW for six years and said she was really proud to see girls from country areas achieve great results on a national stage.
“There are pathways for girls with football and it starts with Southern,” she said.
“It is great to see girls playing football increasing in the area and would be good to see more of it. It definitely shows that there is a pathway here for them.”