Head coach Rae Dower has called up 22 promising young footballers including five Northern NSW Football representatives as the Commonwealth Bank Junior Matildas return to action with their first training camp of 2022.
Held at the Australian Institute of Sport, the camp also marks the first activity of the junior national team in 12 months following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and signifies the continued stand up of Australia’s youth national teams.
Lara Gooch, Zoe Karipidis, Chloe Walandouw (Newcastle Jets), Harriet Shuttleworth (UNSW) and Madeline Howard (Adamstown Rosebud) will represent NNSWF in the 22-player squad.
While Dower and her team have remained connected with the next cycle of players through a comprehensive online program, she expressed her delight in finally coming together as a group.
“It’s been a very long two years and I am proud of how we have engaged with the players over that timeframe. However, there is nothing like connecting in person and we are excited to return to the pitch with these players,” Dower said.
“We have some incredibly talented up and coming players and the staff and I are really looking forward to seeing what they can produce this week.
“This training camp and the ones to follow in 2022 are vital for our youth programs. The ongoing development of this next generation of players and our ability to scout, guide and nurture them is crucial to building depth in our national team program.
“I am extremely grateful to the hardworking coaches, program staff and technical directors across the country who have kept the players motivated and assisted in their continued development over these last two years.”
Consisting of players born in 2005 only, the 22-player squad will involve players from ACT, NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.
Due to the strict COVID-19 protocols this camp will not feature any players from Western Australia. However, they will be in contention for subsequent training camps.
“For a lot of players this week it will be their first national team assembly. So, my message to them will be to come and soak up as much as they can and take as much as possible away from the experience,” Dower said.
“If it can ignite a spark within them to go back and consistently work hard in their own environments, then opportunities like this will continue to come their way.
“We want them to bring the best version of themself to the camp and put their own flavour into trainings and matches. That’s what has given them this opportunity in the first place. I really urge them to play with that authenticity and to play without fear.”
The players will arrive in Canberra today with the training camp scheduled to run until Friday.