Semi-finalists have been confirmed at the National Youth Championships 2023 Girls' Tournament as the competition enters the business end.
Fifty games over the last three days have dazzled onlookers across WIN Stadium and JJ Kelly Park, Wollongong, featuring scintillating strikes, showstopping saves and plenty of silky skills.
Thursday's schedule will feature semi-finals for the under-14 and under-16 divisions with the finals to take place on Friday.
The crowd at WIN Stadium on Thursday will be treated to some quality football as the semi-finals get underway.
NSW Metro, Northern NSW, Western Australia and Victoria have qualified for the under-14s group A semi-finals, with the two winning teams progressing to the group A final on Friday.
In the under-14 group B division, Capital Football, Queensland Silver, Invitational XI and NSW Country will compete to determine the two finalists of group B.
While in the under-16 division, NSW Metro and Victoria have progressed from group A to face South Australia and Northern NSW from group B to decide the under-16 finalists.
Northern NSW spring into semi-finals
Northern NSW Football’s teams kept the good times rolling on day three, with both sides securing their spot in semi-final matches.
NNSWF Technical Director Ryan Doidge was proud of both teams' efforts so far.
The under-14s came away from Wednesday’s games with mixed results with a win and a loss. A Sophie Johnson hat-trick secured a 3-0 win over Victoria on Wednesday morning before they were defeated 1-0 by top-of-the-table NSW Metro. The team’s success in the tournament earned them a place in the semi-finals after finishing second on the table. They will take on Victoria in the semi-finals for a spot in the final.
The under-16s continued their unbeaten streak, defeating Tasmania 2-0 on Wednesday. Isabella Nunes and Laura Knipe scored goals, resulting in the team finishing the group stage second on the table. They will play Victoria in the semi-final on Thursday for a chance to play in the final.
Aaliyah Kilroy, Kalani Ryan and assistant coach Mick Hugo, who are representing NNSWF in the under-14s Invitational XI team, will also feature in the semi-finals after another successful day in the tournament. They will take on Queensland Silver in the under-14s semi-final on Thursday morning.
“I am very pleased with the continued efforts from all players and coaches throughout the tournament,” Doidge said.
“Both teams created positive attacking opportunities and displayed brave, determined performances.
“I am proud of how well the teams have represented the northern NSW footprint and am looking forward to see them battle it out in the semi-finals.”
Future is bright for Australian Women's Football
The vibrant energy of the under-14s and under-16 girls has been clear to see this week as they showcase their talents and compete to keep their National Youth Championships dream alive.
The energy has been reflected on the pitch with some brilliant goals being scored and quality goalkeeping to match that would complement any highlights package. For Football Australia's Technical Director of Women's Football and head coach of the Australia women's under-17s Rae Dower, that's exactly what she was hoping to see.
"There's been some outstanding goals scored and there's been some great goalkeeping on display in both age groups. There's some really exciting times for our game ahead with so many talented players here," Dower said.
"The skill level of the players has really increased over the past five to 10 years.
"Having that increased level of skill matched with good physical attributes means that we're on the way to helping to develop the next generation of all-round footballers, players who can read the game well. We're on the march to producing some talented footballers for the future."
The talent on display from all Member Federations is evidence of the growing depth in the Australian Women's Football Community, with the recent success of the CommBank Matildas at the World Cup serving as motivation for the aspiring young footballers.
"The girls are clearly already motivated and still riding the wave of success of the Matildas at the FIFA Women's World Cup," Dower said.
"Some of the games have been really exciting encounters and come down to the last second of the game where teams have either scored an equaliser or gone ahead and scored a winner.
"There's a few players not present at the tournament this year off enjoying their pre-season and ready for Round One of the Liberty Women's A-League starting this weekend, so the future is definitely bright and I can't wait to follow their football journeys."
The pressure cooker of playing in a National Final is sure to create some entertaining football on Friday, and Dower is looking forward to seeing how each team handles the occasion.
"The Finals will highlight different aspects of the players' development and how they handle the big occasion. It brings out leadership qualities and we will see how players and teams cope under that perceived pressure,” Dower said.
"There are many additional benefits from seeing the girls play in this format. Making a National semi-final or final and going on to become National Champions is a football and life experience that the players and staff will treasure for the rest of their lives."
Due to unforeseen technical issues, the competition website is not displaying the correct table and results information. A resolution for this is currently being worked on. Live and up-to-date table information is available via the Gameday App by completing the steps outlined HERE.
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