Three Queenslanders have been selected to play in a Young Matildas elite game on Wednesday, 7 April at Valentine Sports Park in Sydney.
QAS midfielders Shianna Singh and Aleeah Davern will join 2020 QAS Player of the Year Holly McQueen in a 26-player internal match.
McQueen, 18, is no stranger to the Young Matildas, having been selected for a training camp in 2019. But Singh and Davern, both 17, are new additions to the national team set-up.
“Both are talented midfielders who get into good positions,” said Young Matildas head coach Leah Blayney. “That’s something we’re looking for in the midfield: people who can break lines and are effective going forward.”
Blayney said the elite game is another opportunity to identify the best up-and-coming talent ahead of the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers in August.
“This is the fourth elite game I’ve held for our new cycle of Young Matildas,” said Blayney.
“I’m running them so frequently because it gives me an opportunity to see a lot more players and a lot more age groups. Across the four elite games, we would have seen almost 60 different players in the past month.
“It is very much long-term thinking. The players come in, they see the environment and what’s expected of them, and I provide them feedback based on our benchmarks. We treat it like we treat a national team camp, so it’s a good experience for them.”
Singh, a former Lions FC junior, said selection for the Young Matildas elite game is the first step of a long-term goal after two years of full–time training and playing in the QAS program.
“It’s something I’ve been working toward,” said Singh.
“The QAS aims to create Matildas, so the end goal, of course, is to become one. Football has always been a part of my life and I feel like as soon as I got selected for the QAS program, it became a more career-driven goal.
“It’s really exciting – and also really nerve-wracking. I’m looking forward to representing my teammates from QAS.”
Selection for the Young Matildas elite game is the latest milestone for Davern, who moved from Cairns to Brisbane this year and has been busy adjusting to a new school in a new city.
“I’ve made heaps of friends through QAS and the Marsden State High School soccer program,” said Davern.
“Leichhardt, my club team in Cairns, have been very supportive on and off the field, and without them I wouldn’t be here.
“The QAS is very different compared to Cairns, it’s a more structured and professional environment. We have a lot more programs, like gym sessions, which we didn’t have in Cairns.
“Now that I’m at the first stage, I want to go all the way and hopefully play for the Matildas at the World Cup. I just need to work hard and focus on the small steps to get there.”