Graftons Laura Phillips in training for the upcoming tour of Germany after being selected for the Joeys tour in June.
Graftons Laura Phillips in training for the upcoming tour of Germany after being selected for the Joeys tour in June.

Laura goes waltzing after Matildas

WESTLAWN Tigers footballer Laura is about to embark on a life-changing trip to Germany – six weeks of competing and training in one of the world’s football powerhouses and if that wasn’t enough of a dream – tickets to every one of the Matildas group clashes in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Laura, who turns 17 next January, plays for Westlawn’s under-16s and women’s sides so attends two training sessions and two games every week on top of her representative Futsal commitments for the Vikings.

The German trip, co-ordinated by the Inverell-based founder of the Joey’s Football Academy, Heinrich Haussler, is the second of its kind being offered for girls and the third one for boys.

“I normally separate them (girls and boys) but I didn’t want either of them to miss out on the World Cup,” said the veteran football mentor.

This time the squad, comprising four teams – two teams of each sex – will be accompanied by Australian soccer legend and former Socceroos coach Rale Rasic for the entire itinerary.

Haussler’s experience tells him that each player will come back with a very different and more sophisticated view of the football world.

“It’s one thing to watch it on TV but to feel and breathe the strength of football you really need to be there ... this will change these people forever,” he said.

He said Kassandra Downie, who went on the 2008 trip, had been invited to try out for Bundesliga club Saarbruecken on this trip.

Haussler’s own son is playing for Victoria Frankfurt’s youth league team – one step under Bundesliga level.

Others who had made the trip had gone onto play professional football elsewhere – James Eccles had been signed as a goalkeeper to the Brisbane Roar and his brother Adrian had won a six-figure scholarship to attend university and play professionally in the US.

Haussler said the atmosphere in Germany this year would be intense because the host nation of the FIFA Women’s World Cup were also the defending champions.

“Women’s football is huge in Germany,” he said.

Aside from the Australia games, Haussler said Joeys had secured tickets for the quarter final and final if Australia made it through.

Far from a spectator trip, Haussler said teams would play about 18 games of soccer on the trip although some might only be half hour tournament games.

“They will train twice a day, unless they are playing in which case they will only train once,” he said.

“We we have the top Bundesliga coaching staff coming down to our training sessions.”

Haussler said these trips, the first of which happened in 2006, had established relationships between German and Australian families with several promising footballers keeping in contact with friends made on trips and several players managing to play full seasons in Germany.

Haussler said he hadn’t seen Laura play as yet, but said she had come highly recommended from Tina Mahwinney, of Grafton, who had been on the 2008 trip.

Laura said she would love to be “noticed” in Germany so she could go back when she turned 18 and perhaps secure some kind of professional playing contract.

“I just love everything about soccer ... I do a lot of sports (athletics, oztag, dance) but it’s the one I really work for,” she said.

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