Mission: ‘build’ women’s football

Te Awamutu FC’s top women’s side which played in a pre-season tournament in Cambridge on Sunday.
Front row, from left: Sara Mallison, Emma Cox (captain), Arahia Roberts, Kirsten Beck, Danielle Miles, Bianca Karam-Whalley, Samantha Corbett, Layla Rixon. Back row, from left: coach Sean Stringfellow, Bernadette Pearman, Breanna Dunn, Laura Christian, Dani Walter, Melissa Howell, Holly Dunn, Manon Prasad, Kayla Pendergast, Dave O’Keeffe. Photo: Mary Anne Gill

Te Awamutu goalkeeper Angela Hammond-Tutty was only minutes into the opening game of a pre-season tournament in Cambridge on Sunday when disaster happened.

As she went to clear the ball, she got kicked in the left hand and knew instantly her wrist was broken.

She and the children ended up heading to Waikato Hospital while coach Sean Stringfellow called on substitute keeper Danielle Miles to fill in.

Hammond-Tutty’s absence meant the squad had to regroup. Stringfellow was unfazed.

“Today’s main mission, Te A is building its women’s football, (it’s) only the second year we’ve been back.”

Twelve teams competed in the tournament, from Papamoa, Metro Auckland, Taupō, Mt Maunganui, Te Awamutu, Rotorua, Whakatane, Thames and Tauranga.

Cambridge Red won the Hilary Cup, for the second year in a row, while the Mt Maunganui College First XI was second. Taupō won the plate and Rotorua Lakes the bowl.

Stringfellow said a player to watch out for this season is captain and centre back Emma Cox  from Ōtorohanga.

“She is quite the key to the team moving forward – leading from the back.”

Te Awamutu fields eight junior girls’ teams.

“We’re trying to provide a pathway for women straight from six years old to adulthood. From day one they can see where they aspire to be,” said Stringfellow.

March is New Zealand Football’s Girls and Women’s Month held in advance of the Women’s World Cup which kicks off in Auckland on July 20 with the Football Ferns taking on Norway.

When there were Fifa qualifying games in Hamilton recently, Te Awamutu provided ball girls and flag bearers for the games and one player carried the match ball out.

“We’re creating experiences that they will remember forever. I remember being five and getting my first football kit and the smell of that kit. And that will remain with those girls forever.”

Stringfellow explains there were two reasons why he got involved in coaching women’s football.

“They listen, so that’s one good thing.

“But I’m really passionate about football being in the community.”


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