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Anthony • 15 mins
By Bridget Hicks (PSG Staff)
Shadeene Evans, or Shay as she prefers to be called, dreams of playing for Australia’s women’s national football team, the Matildas.
Speaking at this week’s Pacific School Games in Adelaide, the speedy striker shared her ambitions for the future, and her goals are simple.
“I want to keep developing my football and hopefully play for the Young Matildas one day, and yeah hopefully for the senior Matildas team,” Evans said.
She cites current Matildas footballer Kyah Simon as her inspiration. Also a striker, Simon was the first Indigenous Australian player to score a goal in a FIFA World Cup.
The 16-year-old moved from Borroloola in the Northern Territory to New South Wales two years ago to fulfil a sports scholarship, where she gets to combine education with her passion for football.
“I’m going to Westfield Sports High School at the moment and training for my club and for the Football NSW Institute,” she added.
Shay is representing New South Wales in this week’s championship and has shown her prowess on the field, after originally being called into the team as a shadow player and then being elevated to the travelling team.
She’s in great hands, being mentored by experienced women’s coach Chris Bradley. He sees his role as one of not only developing the skills of his players, but also teaching them about the expectations that will fall upon their shoulders at the elite level.
“I think it’s my role to make sure they’re aware that they’re representing their state. Once they make an elite team, there is an expectation,” Bradley explained.
“If you want to make the Matildas, it’s an opportunity to understand what is expected of you in the game, prior to the game, recovery, appropriate diet, appropriate re-hydration to ensure you can get through the entire tournament. If you don’t look after yourself, you’re not going to make it.”
Bradley wasn’t short of praise for Shay and the way she is already conducting herself as a young athlete.
“Shay’s quite coachable. You give her instructions and once she understands what the instructions entail and sees the bigger picture, she adapts to those instructions,” Bradley said of the striker.
“She’s very aggressive and that’s a good thing. You need that in football.
“She has a desire to want to compete against other players. She’s pretty quick and quite skillful. She’s a good finisher, which is what you need when you’re an attacker.”
The championship week isn’t just about the serious stuff though, and Shay highlighted the Games Opening Ceremony as an exciting part of the event.
“It was good to get together with the other states and it was really fun. The soccer team just normally sticks together,” Evans said.
The NSW 18 years and under girls are currently undefeated after the first three games in the 2017 Pacific School Games. They will play a further five games across the remaining days of the championship.