TOP AWARD: Jemma Vanderkolk with the 2018 South West Queensland Thunder FC Safe Hands award for least amount of goals conceded throughout the 2018 NPL season across both boys and girls teams U16.
TOP AWARD: Jemma Vanderkolk with the 2018 South West Queensland Thunder FC Safe Hands award for least amount of goals conceded throughout the 2018 NPL season across both boys and girls teams U16. Contributed

Murgon goalie has Thunder in safe hands

WHEN Jemma Vanderkolk is in goal the opposition is unlikely to score.

In her first season playing for South West Queensland Thunder in the National Premier League Jemma was the club's most reliable junior goal keeper.

For her efforts she received the safe hands award which is earned by the goal keeper who concedes the lowest number of goals throughout the 2018 season in the girls and boys under-16 and below divisions.

"It was a big surprise on the awards night, I had no idea," she said.

"It was a new level for me this season and it was harder better and faster."

The NPL is the highest level of club football in Queensland and Jemma rose to the challenge.

With Jemma in goal the Thunder U13 girls team scored the best result for the club in that age category in recent years.

This season the Murgon State High School student travelled to Toowoomba twice a week to train with her team and took part in goal keeper specific training.

Jemma's coach for 2018, Tim Littlejohn, praised Jemma's ability to break into the NPL competition.

"Jemma is very determined, very courageous and doesn't mid throwing her body on the line," he said.

"When your goal keeper is willing to that it lifts the whole team.

"She is great for a young keeper and she will only get better as she gets older and comes up against bigger competition."

Jemma will be stepping up to the U15 division in 2019 and will make the move to Toowoomba to attend Concordia Lutheran College.

The sporting opportunities in Toowoomba and access to training will help Jemma achieve her long-term football goal, to one day play for the Matildas.

"I like seeing all the other girls that are up in that level and to talk to the girls, it keep me going and inspired," she said.

"I hope when I am older I get to that level and get to play with people that I look up to."

The community around football is just as important to Jemma as the outcome of the games.

"Football is good because you meet new people and get to know everyone better and it is good for your fitness," she said.

South Burnett

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