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A goal scoring wiz

Thursday, 24th November, 2011

NEW GOAL: BH soccer star Nikki Phillips is looking forward to trying her hand at Aussie Rules football on Sunday. NEW GOAL: BH soccer star Nikki Phillips is looking forward to trying her hand at Aussie Rules football on Sunday.

By John Casey

Nikki Phillips has earned a reputation as one of the most dangerous forwards in BH soccer but now she wants to convert her goal-scoring prowess to Aussie Rules football.

On Sunday the 32-year-old will finally get that opportunity when she takes part in a Gala Women’s AFL match at Jubilee Oval which could be the forerunner to a regular competition commencing in 2012.

“My dad (Dennis Reed) played football for Central and I have always wanted to be involved in a women’s competition, but have never had a chance until now,” an enthusiastic Nikki explained.

“I remember Dad taking me to his games when I was younger and having a kick in the backyard with my brother Jamie, but I took up soccer because footy wasn’t an option for girls back then.

“About 10 years ago I recall playing a night game to see if there was any interest in a women’s footy competition but I think red-tape got in the way and it never took off,” she continued.

This time around the women have the support of the SA National Football League who will be sending representatives to Sunday’s match, as well as the backing from the Shinglebacks organisation.

“The Shinglebacks have been fantastic pulling it all together and I am confident there will be enough interest to get a competition up and running,” Nikki said.

“We have had plenty of girls at training on a regular basis and I am sure there will be a lot of interest in Sunday’s match.”

Shinglebacks spokesman Peter Nash has been mentoring the women and sees a bright future for women’s football.

“We have had a dedicated group of girls training most weeks over the past two months and their skills will surprise everyone who comes to Jubilee Oval on Sunday,” Mr Nash predicted.

“Nikki has been training the house down and has brilliant kicking skills on either leg, which I am sure will impress spectators.

“Other players to watch include Katie Patison, midfielders Lyndsay Kubiak, Heidi Drenkhahn, Erica Schmidt and Shelby Raven, while Shae Nevill looks very capable at either end of the ground,” Mr Nash continued.

“Serena Prout is a tackling machine, while Stacey Toohey has also stood out with her attack on the ball as well as her kicking skills.”

Mr Nash explained that Sunday’s match at Jubilee Oval was reliant on as many females as possible turning up and even women who haven’t been training were most welcome to join in on the day and participate in a quick “rules” demonstration prior to the first bounce.

“We’ll have two teams, but the size we make the playing area will depend on numbers, so I’d encourage any women interested to come and help make this a success,” Mr Nash said.

“The game will be played under usual AFL rules, but umpires will also be ‘teaching’ the players as we go to ensure everyone enjoys a good, safe experience.

“Our end goal is for each of the four local football clubs to have their own Ladies team next year, so we hope as many people will come down and support this concept,” Mr Nash continued.

Entry to the match is free and Mr Nash praised the efforts of fellow Shinglebacks Terry Anderson, Rod Garner, Garry Sandy, Hayden Langdon, Brett Morris and Richard McLean - along with Michael Craig - all of whom have played a role in educating the female players.

“The Broken Hill Football League has been very co-operative as well in allowing the women to train and play at the ‘Jube’ and we certainly appreciate that support,” Mr Nash said.

All girls are requested to be at the ground by 4pm.

If a women’s competition is established in 2012 it will present a problem for Nikki Phillips as she is been pursued by Division 1 soccer teams in Canada.

Nikki, who was the leading scorer in BH A Grade soccer this season with more than 40 goals for St Josephs, first played in Canada in 2010 and quickly established herself as one of the stars of the competition.

“I think they were a bit surprised,” Nikki explained of her 43-goal haul in her debut season in Canada.

“I applied online to be drafted and didn’t know what to expect, but since then I have had a couple of clubs interested in getting me back.

“Unfortunately they don’t pay me, but I had a great experience and I am considering another trip in 2012,” Nikki added.

“Whichever way it goes, I’ll be really enjoying my football next year.”

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