Meet 15-year-old Afrikah ‘Affy’ McGladrigan. A shy, young football prodigy, sporting a million dollar smile. Her laconic nature is infectious - and she's pretty knowledgeable about her surfing too.
Meet 15-year-old Afrikah "Affy" McGladrigan. A shy, young football prodigy, sporting a million dollar smile. Her laconic nature is infectious - and she's pretty knowledgeable about her surfing too.
Affy shares how she was introduced to the round ball and what her dreams are for the future. She epitomises the innocence of youth and may yet one day be a fully fledged Matilda.
Sally Shipard (SS): Lovely to meet you Afrikah, tell me how you first began playing football?
Afrikah McGladrigan (AM): I was about 10-years-old, I didn't really know what football was. Some of my friends did it so I just followed.
SS: Here you are! You are a surfer as well, did you discover the surf or a football first?
AM: I discovered surfing first, as a kid I did nippers.
SS: So you grew up on the coast, where do you live?
AM: I live with my family on the Sunny Coast in Coloundra.
SS: That is pretty north Affy, how do you go about getting to training?
AM: Between Dad and Mum, they take me each week. Or I car pool with some of the other girls from the Sunny Coast. We spend about three hours a day in the car, at the moment we are travelling down four nights a week.
SS: How do you go about fitting school in with that?
AM: I usually study on the way down and on weekends, it can be pretty hard. I am in grade 10 at the moment. I know I want to go to university but have no idea what I want to study.
SS: That is completely okay. You are 15-years-old, take your time with this decision. Tell us what the next few weeks look like for you with the ‘Mini- Matildas?
AM: We are going down to Canberra to play New Zealand. I haven-t played any games for Australia yet, so I am pretty nervous.
SS: Belinda Wilson, your Head Coach for the QAS program and Mini Matildas introduced you to the program only three months ago. How were you invited to come in to train here?
AM: She emailed Dad, and he told me one day after school. I was stockin!
SS: What is that word, "stockin"? Please repeat that with a definition.
AM: Stockin-. Like stocked. I guess it is like a surfing term.
SS: Oh fabulous, I am totally up with it now!
AM: Yeah, I was stockin- (laughs) which I guess is another way of saying stoked.
SS: So your first game against New Zealand next week, first time you pull on the green and gold. What age did you decide you wanted to play for Australia?
AM: I am pretty excited! When I was playing U/14-s one of my friends said to me that she wants to be a Matilda. I said what the hell is a Matilda. She said the Women-s Australia Soccer team, so I-ve wanted to be one ever since! Most definitely.
SS: Speaking of Matildas, how is it training with the current Westfield Matildas captain Clare Polkinghorne?
AM: Oh my god, it is crazy! They are so intimidating but they are so good. I have learnt the most off Polks, she is crazy good.
SS: You being a surfer/footballer, you-d be very familiar with surfer Sal Fitzgibbon?
AM: Yeah, she shreds!
SS: Right, so shreds and stoken, you really are introducing me to a whole new vocab! Well you would be aware too that she was a fine footballer, how do you go about balancing your surfing with your football?
AM: At the moment I am able to go with both, surfing in comp-s and playing for Australia, but yeah eventually I-d have to choose, no time soon though.
SS: So you have your games against New Zealand next week, tell us where you are off to in a months time?
AM: In a months time, if I get picked, we will be playing China and Bahrain in China, hoping to qualify for the U-17-s World Cup next year, which would be pretty cool to go to.
SS: Where is the World Cup next year?
AM: Costa Rica, it would me amazing!
SS: How is the surfing in Costa Rica?
AM: Good! Perfect I think.
SS: If you get in will you ask Belinda to take your board? She-d be inclined to take her-s too!
AM: Yep. (Grins) Definitely.