Girls showcase skills at Whyalla soccer carnival

SOCCER: The Port Augusta and districts team represented at the 2019 Bis Regional Girls Soccer Carnival in Whyalla. Photo: Robert Woodland.
SOCCER: The Port Augusta and districts team represented at the 2019 Bis Regional Girls Soccer Carnival in Whyalla. Photo: Robert Woodland.

Port Augusta girls competed in the second Bis Regional Girls Soccer Carnival at Steel United Soccer Club in Whyalla over the weekend.

The Port Augusta and districts team were aged between 11-15 years old from Port Augusta, Ceduna and Roxby Downs and played against girls from regional towns in the Spencer Gulf and Far North who wanted to play soccer against other girls.

This is the second year that Bis has sponsored the carnival which has an ethos of creating opportunities for girls to play soccer.

The tournament was a five-team round-robin competition with six games played on the first day and four on the second.

On Friday night before the carnival began, former Adelaide United striker and current MiniRoos Development Officer from Football South Australia, Tiarn Powell, held a coaching clinic for all female players.

Tiarn stayed for the entire carnival, watching on and encouraging the girls.

She commented that the ability and talent she saw over the whole weekend was outstanding.

The carnival showcased the talent of girls from all over regional South Australia.

The Port Augusta and Districts team finished third overall behind Whyalla Pink and Port Lincoln, with two wins a draw and a loss.

This is the first year that Port Augusta has sent a team to the tournament which saw many girls play soccer for the first time amongst experienced players.

Many new players thrived in doing so, but more importantly, many were actively participating and having fun.

There were 48 goals scored by 23 different goal scorers in the carnival, including many players who had never scored a goal before.

Destiny Freer finished in third place for leading goal scorer and was also named the Sarah King Runner Up Player of the Tournament, narrowly beaten by Whyalla Pink's Emily Todd in one vote.

At presentations on Sunday Tiarn talked to the girls about the pathways that are available for girls to play at a higher level.

A number of regional girls who have participated in higher level pathways from the Spencer Gulf in 2019 were called to the stage and recognised for their achievement.

Billie Jenkins from Port Lincoln spoke of her experience since last year's Bis Carnival crediting it with creating a love for the game which has since seen her represent South Australia at the Singa Cup in Singapore.

Through her presentation she encouraged other girls to continue to play and develop their skills so that they too can pursue opportunities in the future.

Also invited to the stage were the regional girls who will be heading to Fiji next month including Port Augusta local players Mia and Zoe Smith.

In next year's carnival it is hoped that the girls will return and share their experiences of playing soccer in Fiji and inspire more girls to pursue opportunities to play soccer.

In reflection of the carnival, Tiarn Powell said: "The Bis Regional Girls Soccer Carnival held in Whyalla was a huge success, the ability and talent that I saw over the whole weekend was outstanding.

"There are so many girls who show so much potential and I can't wait to work with the Association, Steel United and Kirsty over the coming years.

"I hope that in the future we see girls from Whyalla, Port Lincoln, and Port Augusta and the surrounding areas in our path way programs"

In 2020 it is hoped that many girls from regional South Australia will pursue opportunities to play soccer in any programs that become available.

It's also hoped that some of the players who competed this weekend, who haven't played soccer before, will join a team and continue to play.

There are girls on all different paths playing soccer; some are striving to take higher opportunities, some are trying to improve at their own pace.

But all players are enjoying the social aspect of being part of a team, making new friends and taking on a new challenge.

The Bis Regional Girls Soccer Carnival is a place for all aspirations to be celebrated and will continue to be a place where all girls are encouraged to develop and pursue opportunities to play at higher levels.