SWQ team in major victory
HISTORY was made last week after South Burnett's Sarah Vanderkolk coached the South West Queensland under-14 girls to victory in the Gold Coast Cup.
It is the first time the South West Queensland football team has won a title at the cup and Vanderkolk hopes it will drive more players to try to reach a representative level.
"It's massive if the girls can see what these girls have achieved," she said.
Vanderkolk's daughter Renae was the only player from the South Burnett to make the team but there was no shortage of other available players.
"I had girls from Gatton, Dalby, Warwick and Toowoomba," Vanderkolk said.
Once appointed as coach for the South West Queensland girls' squad, Vanderkolk established a plan of action in early July to ensure her team was ready to face what would be for many their biggest competition yet.
"We had a 10-week training period every Sunday," she said.
With players spread out right across south-west Queensland, they had to travel to Toowoomba on a weekly basis.
This commitment gave Vanderkolk an insight into their dedication and drive to succeed.
As well as training sessions, Vanderkolk broke her team in over a number of carnivals in Warwick and Kingaroy.
The match-hardened U14s made their way out onto the field on Sunday, September 27, to go up against the Gold Coast's Mudgeeraba team.
Vanderkolk said the first game was a bittersweet lesson to learn after her squad held a 2-1 lead at half-time, only to let it slip in the second to lose 5-2.
This first loss was succeeded by another big 12-0 defeat at the hands of UQ FC, although they were an U16 squad.
Vanderkolk said her team learnt a great deal in the first two games to get them back in gear.
"I've coached juniors for the last six years but this is my first time with an all-girls team," Vanderkolk said.
This had Vanderkolk refocus her attention to the basics rather than focus on the more technical aspects of the game.
"You've got to really focus on the passing and technique rather than the speed," she said.
After a little more work, the South West Queensland girls won their first game, 7-0 against Wahroonga, the team they would beat 2-0 in the grand final.
"We were lucky we got one in the back of the net in just under a minute," Vanderkolk said.
Vanderkolk said she was most impressed with the way her team improved over the week to match up against bigger city teams.
"Some of these players were as young as 12 and they just grew as players," she said.