[Images: Ray Gardner/Redlands United and Northern NSW Football]
At just 14 years old Shekinah ‘Shaq’ Friske has the world at her feet and her future in her hands.
Despite only playing football for two years, Friske has aspirations to play for the Matildas as well as coaching young goal keepers to follow their dreams and help them succeed.
“I haven’t always been interested in football. I think when I was younger I wanted to play because my mum did and as I got older I was more interested in basketball but now I think football is what I want to do for a career,” Friske said.
Friske’s transition to football wasn’t easy.
After trialing for her school football team as a defender without making the team, she found her feet while filling in as a goalkeeper when the team was short.
“They had a practice match and I filled in for their goalkeeper who was sick,” she explained.
“The coach said to me if I would have trialled [as a goalkeeper] I would have put you in as our goalkeeper. How about you come back next year and I’ll have a look at you then, so I did.”
Counting her experience in basketball as a contributing factor to her success in goals, Shaq has pushed herself to compete at the highest levels – playing with the Queensland State Team alongside competing in the PlayStation® 4 National Premier Leagues (NPL) with Eastern Suburbs FC.
“NPL can be challenging at times but it’s a good learning curve. I find that it’s a really good environment for the girls to be in and that they [the club] really look after you,” the teenager said.
“With Nationals, to be completely honest I couldn’t believe it when I was invited to trial because I had only been playing for a short amount of time.
“The competition was an incredible experience that I will remember forever.”
After identifying her during her time with Redlands United, State Technical Director David Abela is impressed with the maturity and understanding Friske displays both on and off the field.
“She’s in the same mould as Melissa Barbieri, very similar players. Good position, good communication skills and good with her feet,” Abela said.
“Shaq has an understanding of when to play and when not to play which is very good for her age.
“It’s up to her now. It’s very hard at a young age to tell where they are going to finish but she shows all the signs of wanting to play at the top level.
“Now she needs to put in the work to get there and I think her attitude and the way she holds herself both mentality and physically will help her achieve her goals.”