Some words of encouragement from a national goalkeeping coach has transformed Launceston's Amelie Millar from a fan of soccer to a player with a mission: "To play at the highest level in the sport I love."
The conversation came about following her last stint at the National Youth Championships, where her performances between the sticks caught the attention of the on-looking coach.
This week, the St Patrick's College year eight student has returned to the tournament and will captain Tasmania's under-14 team.
The team she will lead out is in safe hands too, with Amelie's leadership skills proven during this year's Northern Tasmania Junior Soccer Association campaign with Launceston City.
She skippered the under-14s side and was even called up to play games in the under-17s too.
Amelie's mother Natasha said her daughter's passion for soccer is an intense one.
"She's very switched on when it comes to soccer. She has this soccer-brain that she switches on and everything," Natasha said.
"Normally she's relaxed, things don't stress her out too much ... but with soccer, something switches in her brain and she turns it on."
While many players Amelie's age would prefer to be scoring the goals than stopping them, Natasha said the 14-year-old is committed to her role with the gloves on.
While she is satisfied with her spot on the field, Natasha said Amelie is always looking to improve on her own performances.
"She's very hard on herself. She never thinks she's played well, but she does like it when the team does really well too," Natasha said.
"It's funny though, she hates it when the team's winning by a lot and she's hardly touched the ball. She's not a fan of that, but she likes a hard-fought win where she's had to do some saves."
With the Matildas' gripping World Cup campaign still fresh in the memory for all Australians, Amelie took plenty out of goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold's performances, while also gaining an understanding of how the matches were played.
But with nationals the immediate focus, Natasha said her goal was to stop the opposition from scoring them.
"That's where a lot of the scouts are and everybody is watching people play there, so you can get some experiences and people watching you and maybe making contact with you after nationals if you're good enough for them," she said.
Nominations for The Examiner's Junior Sports Awards are still open and can be made by scanning the QR code.
The junior sport awards acknowledge accomplishments by Northern Tasmanian players, coaches, volunteers, teams and clubs across the region.
The categories are:
- Female Junior Sportsperson of the Year (15-18 years)
- Male Junior Sportsperson of the Year (15-18 years)
- Female Rising Junior Star of the Year (12-14 years)
- Male Rising Junior Star of the Year (12-14 years)
- Ricky Ponting Service to Sport award (volunteer)
- Team of the Year (12-18 years)
- Club of the Year (must consist of junior athletes between 12-18 years)
- Phil Edwards Bursary: Entrants to submit a 500-word essay highlighting 'What their involvement in sport means to them'. Entry open to athletes male and female between 12-18.
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