Anna McPhie, centre, competing for the ball against Upper Hutt. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

FOOTBALL

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Tasman United have had a strong presence in the Wairarapa United men’s team over the past couple of seasons, and now those connections are spreading to the women’s game.

Two of the United women’s team’s brightest young talents – Anna McPhie and Florence Macintyre – moved to Wairarapa from Nelson this year to try and progress their football careers.

Both players were part of last year’s Tasman United women’s team, and their connection to Paul Ifill made the transition to Wairarapa a smooth one.

Ifill is coaching the United women’s team this year and runs football academies in both Wairarapa and Nelson.

McPhie is in Year 13 at Wairarapa College and has been a goal-scoring machine for United this season.

She said Wairarapa stood out as a logical step to advance her career.

“I looked at moving up a couple of years ago, but it didn’t work out.

“Nothing was happening in Nelson, so I just decided I’d come up for my final year.”

Playing in Nelson meant regular trips to Christchurch for matches, so heading to Wellington for away matches was not too much of a change.

She said there was more experience in the Capital Football W-League than there was in the Christchurch leagues, which helped her develop
as a player.

The aim of the move to Wairarapa was to have fun and compete, and that is how she has been approaching the season.

“We just beat the winners of last year’s competitions so that made us feel pretty good.

“I came up here to have fun and get back into my football so I’m just living by that at the moment.”

Macintyre is also in Year 13 but is attending St Matthew’s Collegiate, and said she had reached out to Ifill to see if there could be an opportunity to play in Wairarapa.

“I contacted Paul and asked if it would be a good idea.

“I wanted to play high level football and thought it was a good pathway.”

She praised Ifill for his contribution to the side and helping her develop as a player.

“The facilities here are great and Paul’s a great coach.

“The level is a step up from what I’d been playing in Nelson and that’s the sort of challenge I wanted.

“It’s definitely better than the premier league in Christchurch.”

United have a third-round Kate Sheppard Cup match to look forward to in a couple of weeks, and Macintyre said playing in the national knockout competition was another bonus of moving to the region.

“That’s something I missed out on in Nelson because we didn’t play in these cup games.

“That’s another bonus because you can see some of the other teams around New Zealand as well.”

Macintyre said she was loving the lifestyle in Masterton, and the professionalism of the club.

Long-term, she is hopeful of taking her game to a higher level, but she may stick around for another season with United.

“I’m looking to play higher-level football but I don’t know where or when yet.

“I’ll probably stay around and play another season to develop as a player.”