BRYA INGRAM/STUFF/Marlborough Express
Midfield maestro Jaimie Elrick, 14, says the move to senior football will be a great experience.
Of course, their new kit still hasn’t arrived and they’re happy to have a squad, but Rangers will take to the pitch on Saturday to participate. Stuff will follow the team this season to see how they are doing.
Marlborough Rangers AFC women’s football team are “ready to roll” ahead of this year’s Championship season after a turbulent pre-season which saw them without a manager or squad just six weeks before kick-off.
With last year’s manager Scott Kennovin moving to Christchurch at the end of the season, the prospect of Marlborough not having a women’s side battling for southern honors in Nelson’s league this season was very real – until local football stalwarts Andrea and Nicky Smith-Scott decided to take the reins.
Co-coach Andrea Smith-Scott said the team were eager to leave despite a short pre-season which was hampered by Covid cases among the players.
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“Training has been quite difficult trying to get the whole squad together with lots of Covid illnesses, and a short lead in the season since we took on the squad, so we’re not prepared.
“But, we have a good base of footballers, and we’re confident it won’t take long to find our feet and our gel as a team on the pitch,” Scott-Smith said.
There are said to be 11 newcomers to this year’s squad with seven youngsters playing in the first team from the lower age groups, and four moving on from playing in the men’s division in recent seasons.
The team’s youngest player, 14-year-old midfielder Jaimie Elrick, had left the Blenheim Valley youth team and said she was looking forward to the challenge of playing against older players.
“I’m pretty excited. It’s really good to be chosen and it will be a great experience for me,” said Jaimie.
Defender Amanda McCallum, 46, was the team’s oldest player and said the combination of youth and experience in the locker room bodes well for the season ahead.
“We are ready to roll. We have a very good mix of young and old, and there are some very good players in the squad,” McCallum said.
According to Jaimie, one person to watch this season was striker Katie Pugh who followed her to the first team in the youth system.
“She’s really good, she’s a great striker,” Elrick said.
With 11 teams competing in the revamped Nelson Pines women’s first team this season, Scott-Smith said the players are eager to get going.
“We’re looking forward to the season ahead and we’ll face a variety of opponents with so many teams in this first round,” Scott-Smith said.
Rangers AFC begin their title challenge on Saturday with a 1pm kick-off against Motueka AFC Angels at the A&P Showgrounds in Blenheim.
The Football Ferns were 90 seconds away from a famous victory before a late collapse against Australia.