EYES ON THE PRIZE: Lateisha Wilkins in action for the Western Pride under-15s.
EYES ON THE PRIZE: Lateisha Wilkins in action for the Western Pride under-15s. Contributed

Lateisha gets the gloves on for QAS

KINGAROY youngster Lateisha Wilkins is catching the eye of Queensland selectors, after being invited to attend a Queensland Academy of Sport high performance camp in Brisbane.

The 13-year-old goalkeeper plies her trade with Western Pride FC under-15s in the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues Queensland competition after moving from the South West Queensland Thunder at the start of the season.

The six week invitation-only program is the pre-selection process to pick a Queensland NPL side which will contest next year's National Youth Championships.

Lateisha was part of the under-13 side that went through undefeated last year, and there is every indication she will be part of a hopefully successful under-15 side as well.

Dad Morgan Wilkins said the decision to move to the Pride was largely to do with the strength of the women's program, and hoped it would help Lateisha continue to develop.

"She had a season at the Thunder in 2015 and we switched to the Pride because she'd done a few school holiday camps with the goalkeeper coach John Garside, and they seem to have a really good culture,” Wilkins said.

Former Matildas goalkeeper Belinda Kitching will also be coming on board with the Pride for 2017, and Wilkins said the professionalism of the Pride showed their commitment to player development.

"(Coach of the senior men) Graham Harvey got up at the presentation night and said a lot of NPL teams are about winning championships, but realistically the NPL is a development pathway and that's how it should be viewed,” Wilkins said.

"As a parent that's a club you want to be around, where you know local kids are going to get a shot rather than bringing in people from the other side of Brisbane.”

The family will relocate to Brisbane in January so Lateisha can be closer for her various football commitments, which includes a trip to Sydney in January as part of the Queensland FFA futsal team.

"She has been accepted into the football academy at Cavendish Road, it was run by Mel Andreatta who is the W-League coach for the Roar,” Wilkins said.

According to her dad, Lateisha's goal is the same as any other aspiring footballer her age.

"Everyone wants to play for the Matildas or the Roar, that's obviously her goal,” Wilkins said.

"(But) she'd like to get a scholarship to the US and play in the football programs over there.

"The women's program is probably the benchmark around the world as far as facilities and pay.”

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