World Cup beckons for young defender

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Emily Jensen is hoping to create history this month.

The 17 year old Waimea College starlet has left a successful six day training camp in Switzerland destined for the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan.

The Young Football Ferns have never made it out of the group stage at the world cup but Emily is confident that this year’s squad has the right mixture to challenge for higher honours. “Getting out of the pool stage is our team goal and then once you get out of there anything can happen,” says Emily. “All along it has been our goal, knowing how cool it would be to do it.”

But the qualification process could not be any harder with the Young Football Ferns drawn alongside three heavyweights in Japan, Brazil and Mexico. “Japan go in as one of the favourites and you’d expect Brazil to be really good so Mexico are going to be our closest competition on paper. We’re not going to go out and smoke Japan but we’ll try hard for a draw or maybe a win.”

Emily’s road to the world cup may be in stark contrast to her team-mates. She is the only player that is based outside of the country’s main centres and she is only able to play for her club side once a month, as it is more than 846 kilometres away from her home in Appleby. Having played in boy’s teams with Richmond Athletic growing up, Emily signed with the Auckland based Three Kings United for 2012. Ankle injuries picked up playing representative touch rugby delayed the start of her football season but she managed to feature a handful of times for Three Kings, including an impressive display in the successful ASB Women’s Knockout Cup final last month.

Because she only makes the trip north once every four weeks, Emily is reduced to one-on-one coaching sessions on the weekends in Nelson. She also has four fitness and strength sessions which she does alone. Emily admits the preparation would have been easier if she was based in Auckland on a full-time basis. “It would have been better but then it’s hard to leave everything here. The hard thing is just motivating yourself to go out and train. It’s a bit lonely but dad offers to help sometimes.”