Diving is a tactic frowned on in football, although in the case of teenager Chloe Cole it is a sporting necessity riding tandem with an escape away from her duties out on the playing pitch.
The teenager, who is the last line of defence in goal for Souths United in the NPL Queensland Women’s competition, revels in diving, whether it be to save goals as goalkeeper for her team or strapping on some scuba gear.
Cole, who does not turn 18 until August, loves to go (scuba) diving in her spare hours. She and her dad Ben escape the pressures of life by hopping into a boat and exploring underwater life off the Tweed Coast.
She even works in a scuba dive shop in Tweed Heads, where the family lives.
In 2017, Cole won the NPLW Golden Gloves award after a total of 12 clean sheets for the season.
But give her a few hours of relaxation time and it’s off to the water or, failing that, popping tents into the four-wheel drive and heading off to a secluded spot for a few days camping.
Cole was born in Maryborough, the gateway to the fabulous Fraser Coast, so little wonder life near the ocean had a big say on her early days.
Cole said she developed a passion for football at a young age but played mostly at school because weekends were taken up by camping trips with her family – father Ben, mother Sarah, younger sister Ella and brother Bailey.
“I didn’t play much football on the weekends because the family used to go camping,” Cole said.
“My favourite spot? I always liked going to Rainbow Beach or Inskip Point. And I still love to do that.
“It’s a nifty diversion and I go whenever I can.”
Cole’s first football was kicked at primary school and it was not until she hit Year 8 at high school that she started to play serious weekend football.
She was in the original Wide Bay Revolution under-age squad and when that folded she played for the Hervey Bay United Warriors in the local competition.
It was in Year 9 when Cole’s family made the decision to relocate to Tweed Heads and in 2015 she linked with the Palm Beach Sharks, then a club in the NPLQ women’s competition.
“We won the under-15 title undefeated,” Cole said proudly.
But then came the dismantling of the Palm Beach side when most of the girls and their families elected to follow coach Gary French up the M1 to Souths United, where Chloe has been ever since.
“I guess from a young age I had a passion for football,” Cole said of her early days before her career started to take shape.
This season Souths are again running third following successive defeats, the latest to The Gap when Cole conceded three goals, two of them to the player she says is her most difficult rival, Tiarne Petterwood.
Cole is like every young Aussie footballer and wants to one day wear the green and gold of the Australian Matildas.
But the short-term ambition is to play at as high a level as possible before getting into elite company.
“I’ll try to work higher up in standard, to get to the highest level I can and hopefully to the Matildas,” Chloe said.
Coming up for Cole and Souths United this weekend is a must-win match against Western Pride at Briggs Road at 5pm on Saturday, which will be broadcast live on FQ Facebook and YouTube.
Words: Terry Wilson