Sell-out crowds and a buzz around the Women’s World Cup, despite the Football Ferns’ early exit, has put women’s football at the top of the sports charts.
A group of players from the Hibiscus Coast Football Club were lucky enough to be amongst it.
Some were flag bearers, player escorts and dancers in the opening ceremony and NZ vs Norway match at Eden Park, which meant walking out in front of the record crowd of 42,500.
In the opening ceremony, on July 20, 13-year-old Hannah Begeuly from the Stacey Martin team, and her mother Raelene, were among the dancers.
Two more members of the same team, Jessica Locking and Ruby Harwood, helped carry out the NZ Flag and William Locking, aged 10, was a player escort for Norway captain Maren Mjelde.
On July 24, brother and sister Holly and Miller Mahuru walked out for the Italy vs Argentina game – Holly as a flag bearer and Miller escorting the Italy team.
Stacey Martin Girls team coach, William Locking (whose son is also William), says the players still can’t believe that they got to walk out onto a packed Eden Park.
The international experience didn’t end there. The Stacey Martin Girls took on a USA U13 representative team from southern California on Saturday, July 22 at McFetridge Park on the North Shore.
The team, selected from the best players in southern California, is touring NZ, following the USA women’s team.
The Coast girls were comprehensively beaten but Locking says they were stoked to play and exchange memorabilia with the visiting team.
“It’s an experience they won’t forget and benchmark of what can be achieved with hard work to be a future Football Fern!”