Football or Futsal? It was a question 17-year old Pukekohe High School student, Jenna Dodd, had to ask herself not so long ago.
The Western Springs Women’s Premier player was selected for the New Zealand Secondary School Girls Football under 18 representative team back in June, and was preparing to travel to Singapore at the end of September.
That was until New Zealand U-18 Women’s Futsal team coach Ronan Naicker threw a spanner in the works and selected Jenna for his ten strong squad for the OFC Youth Futsal Championships.
The problem? The two events clash.
“I was disappointed that the Secondary Schools tour and the U-18 Futsal Champs clash,” Jenna said.
“I would have loved to participate in both, but unfortunately that was not possible so I had to choose one or the other.”
After much discussion with those closest to her, Jenna finally came to a decision, and will be representing her country on the court in a bid to qualify for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.
“I chose to go with Futsal because I saw more of a pathway for me. I knew I was going to have the time of my life with either option, but I personally saw more opportunities with Futsal. It was a hard decision, but one I am happy with,” Jenna added.
Jenna is no stranger to the five-aside game despite only starting late last year. She has already played at the highest level the country has to offer domestically, representing AFF Futsal in the National Women’s Futsal League.
“I haven’t played Futsal for very long and I know I have a lot to learn, but having past experience from the National League and National Age Group tournament will give me the confidence to play against a wide range of opposition. I was very fortunate to play in the National League with many experienced players, all of whom had lots of advice and support. The New Zealand U-18 team consists of a few younger players and I hope I can take my past Futsal experiences and use these within the team.”
Jenna’s campaign with the New Zealand U-18s begins on September 23 with a two day training camp in Wellington.
“I am looking forward to the two training camps coming up, where we will meet the entire team and start making new friends,” She said.
“I am very much looking forward to working with the best U-18 Futsal players New Zealand has and I am honoured to be a part of the team.”
The final camp will take place in Auckland before the OFC Youth Futsal Championships kick off in Auckland on October 4.
By Steph Trowill – Auckland Football Federation