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Clarke to achieve milestone for United

By Gary Caffell
It will be a notable occasion for Michele Clarke when she takes the field for Wairarapa United in their Capital premier division women’s football match with Petone at Memorial Park, Masterton, on Sunday.
Clarke (nee Keinzley) will become the first female player to make 150 appearances in the Wairarapa United colours and the milestone will come 20 years after she made her debut for them as a 13-year-old. However, it would have occurred a lot earlier but for her having a stint in Auckland and then taking an extended break from the game when she returned from there to Wairarapa.
Clarke’s record in football is imposing by any standards. It includes playing for New Zealand under-17s when she was 15, New Zealand under-19s when she was 16 and making her debut for the New Zealand senior women’s team when she was 18. She had 13 caps for them including overseas appearances in the United States, Japan and Australia.
Three times Clarke was part of Wairarapa United teams which made it to the national interclub finals and while she did not win that title with them she achieved that feat with the Auckland-based Lynn Avon club. She also made the Auckland national league side and is a past winner of that league’s Player of the Year award.
Clarke said the motivation to return to the Wairarapa United fold last season was to help add experience to a side containing several promising younger players and she was rapt they won both the Capital second and first division titles to earn promotion to premier division this season. And their success has continued there as they lead the points table going into the last four games.
While she has played at a higher level Clarke says she is taking just as much enjoyment from playing with this Wairarapa United squad as any other club side.
“The younger ones are full of enthusiasm and that rubs off. It’s really good fun.”

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