Three Port Augusta girls displayed their strong football talents at the recent South Australian Country Championships in Renmark, helping Northern Zone to a third-placed finish.
Tamika Reid, Jess Coulthard-Allen and Amelia Etchells were all handpicked for the Northern Zone team after putting in eye-catching performances at the Female Football Carnival in Port Augusta in June.
Northern Zone finished the weekend in third position out of five teams, narrowly missing out on a Grand Final berth.
Coach Sheldon Hall said it was a fantastic result for the young side.
“Third might not seem like much to many people, but we only had three weeks to get our side together,” Hall explained.
“Other zones had months of preparation together, so I thought we gelled as a group very quickly and that showed over the carnival, as the girls played very well as a playing group.”
The Northern side featured a strong mix of players from around the region, with the three Port Augusta girls mixing in with several players from Broken Hill.
The team had a difficult start to the carnival, suffering losses against Southern Districts and eventual winners Eastern.
But they became more cohesive as the tournament went on, scoring a solid win over Central to get on the winners’ list for the first time.
I keep my fingers crossed that these three girls, and hopefully a few more from the area, can come across to play again in next year’s carnival.Northern Zone Coach Sheldon Hall
Hall’s side went on to make it two wins in a row, scoring a nail-biting four-point triumph over South East, with Reid and Etchells kicking the decisive goals.
Reid was one of four Northern Zone players selected in the Team of the Carnival after her standout performances throughout the weekend.
Hall praised her efforts in the forward line.
“The way Tamika led up at the ball as a forward was really good to watch, as it gave us that forward target we were looking for as a part of the team structure,” he said.
Coulthard-Allen displayed her versatility throughout the weekend, rotating between the backline and the forward line.
“Jess played a bit of everywhere for us, which was very helpful for me as coach,” Hall said.
“I thought she played her best footy down back, as when she was there she kept her opponents goalless.”
Meanwhile, Etchells proved her worth as both a centre half forward and a midfielder.
“When she was in the midfield, she played tough footy and got the ball out to our running players,” Hall said.
“Then when she was at centre half forward, her ability to run and jump at the ball was superb, and always created a contest with either marking the ball or bringing it to ground for our small forwards.”
Hall hopes to keep his young, talented side together for the 2019 carnival, with ambitions to build on this year’s success.
“I keep my fingers crossed that these three girls, and hopefully a few more from the area, can come across to play again in next year’s carnival, and that we can go that one step further and play in the Grand Final,” Hall said.
The South Australian Country Football Championships has been a key event on the regional football calendar for 24 years, but the 2018 edition was the first to include a women’s tournament. With the growth of women’s football continuing to rise, the carnival provides regional women with a platform to display their ability.