Junior Riverina soccer star Natasha Stradiotto has been selected for the NSW Country team to compete in the upcoming Girls’ National Youth Championship in October, after successfully representing her state at an international tournament in Japan.
The 15-year-old, who grew up in Hanwood, played for a junior NSW side at the Balcom BMW Cup in the Asian country.
“It was my first time overseas, my first time flying ever,” she said. “I was nervous at first, but once I settled, it was amazing.”
She played against the Japan women’s Under 15 side, and provincial teams Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
While the NSW team didn’t win a game against the best female junior sides in Asia, Natasha described the experience as invaluable in putting her on track to fulfil her dream of playing for the Matildas, the Australian team that captivated the nation in the FIFA Women’s World Cup while she was overseas.
“I would have loved to have gone to see those World Cup games,” she said.
Natasha’s favourite player is Matildas star Ellie Carpenter, a 23-year-old from Cowra.
“She’s shown that someone from regional NSW can make it big time,” Natasha said.
Like Carpenter, Natasha plays fullback, but the Hanwood girl can adapt to the wing and midfield.
“She is very versatile,” mum Tracy said. “Natasha is known for her accurate free kicks, passing and speed. She can kick off her left and right foot.”
Natasha started playing soccer at age six at Hanwood FC, before moving on to Griffith FC. In the Under 13s and 14s division, she played in boys’ teams due to a lack of female players.
“It was a lot tougher. They were very rough so I had to push them back,” she said.
”But I developed my game more quickly because of the experience.”
Her talent saw her make several representative teams. Last year, she was selected for the Talented Sports Program at Sydney’s Westfield Sports High, designed to provide elite young athletes with the best chance to pursue excellence in their chosen sport while maintaining their academic studies. She moved to the Harbour City with her mum in January.
“The soccer is amazing here, but it’s full-on. We do four training sessions a week and two gym sessions a week. I also do three additional training sessions out of school for my club and then have the games on the weekend.”
Natasha has played for the famous Sydney Olympic side, first at the U16 level, but sometimes elevated to the U18 side. She was recently poached by the Gladesville Ravens, who may have seen her spectacular long-range goal for Sydney Olympic.
Her next taste of representative football will be at the National Youth Championships, which kick off on 13 October in Sydney and Wollongong. She will compete against teams from all states and territories as they vie for the crown of Australia’s best young female team.
“It’s great to see her hard work, determination and commitment are being recognised and we are extremely proud of her,” mum Tracy said.
Here’s a profile of Hanwood’s future star.
Name: Natasha Stradiotto.
Teams: Hanwood FC, Griffith FC, Sydney Olympic, Gladesville Ravens, NSW Country.
Position: Winger, fullback or midfielder.
Special skills: Takes corners and free kicks, and can kick with both feet.
Favourite English Premier League team: Manchester City.
Favourite players: Ellie Carpenter of the Matildas and Kevin De Bruyne from Manchester City.
Role model: My dad Angelo. He’s definitely the one who has got me where I am today.
Influential mentor: Ross Morgan, who coached when I played for boys’ teams at Griffith FC.
Best thing about soccer: Everything. It’s my happiness. Even just training makes me so happy.
One thing I’d change about the sport: More funding and recognition for country girls’ soccer.
Advice to upcoming players: Always put in 110 per cent. You have to be really determined to make it.
Non-soccer career goal: Become a PE teacher.
Ultimate sporting dream: Winning a World Cup with the Matildas.
Original Article published by Oliver Jacques on Region Riverina.