14th Grade NRFL Girls Review
Head Coach Pranav Singh takes a look back at the 2021 season for the #girlsinblue
The 14th grade girls’ squad has some very talented players in it – for six players it was a step up from nine to eleven a side and is the beginning of preparing players for senior football. This year we competed in the first ever girls’ Lotto NRFL competition, which is regarded as the best in the country and more than held our own. I joined the team toward the end of preseason and immediately realised that the group had very talented individuals, but we had little experience of playing as a unit.
Our final preseason game, against Ellerslie AFC, was a real learning curve for us. We were beaten heavily but it highlighted the standard of competition to the girls and showed them they needed to work together on the field to perform at the level required. It also led to a change in our shape which worked out very favourably for us during the year.
The season started against Northern Rovers at Tikipunga, who were one of the best sides in the league. We won 5-3 and the girls played incredibly well. We were following the periodised plan throughout the year and you could see the girls improving their tactical understanding quickly. The girls set themselves goals and worked towards them but would also talk about the team and how we can improve from game to game.
Across the thirteen games we played during the Lotto NRFL season we won nine and lost four. The only teams to beat us twice were Ellerslie and Auckland United – the two strongest teams in the competition. We ultimately finished fourth which is a good indicator of how well the team performed this year and I think that the girls have set themselves up well to go further next year. The girls loved playing at Trigg Sports Arena too and we had some great games against Franklin United, Western Springs and Fencibles – I like how the club rotates the youth teams so everyone gets a chance to play at such a quality venue.
I would like to thank the parents for their help with food and travel this season, especially Paula, my manager - I know it hasn’t always been easy this year! Also, huge thanks to Jamie Smith – the help he gave me as a first year coach has helped me develop professionally and I am very grateful. Finally, I would like to thank our team sponsor, McDonald’s Northland. Enjoy the off-season girls, I look forward to working with you again in 2022!