A Botany College alumnus will have the chance to represent her culture after being selected in the New Zealand Maori senior women’s soccer team.
Steph Trowill of Rotorua’s Ngāti Pikiao iwi is part of the 20-strong squad that will take on the Indigenous Australian team in three international matches in Queensland from 1-7 July.
Trowill says it is a great honor to have the opportunity to represent his Maori culture.
“This opportunity not only allows me to showcase my skill as a footballer, but also presents a platform to promote and celebrate the rich traditions, values and history of the Maori people,” he says.
This is a historic moment for Māori Football Aotearoa, which was started by Phil Pickering-Parker in 2008, as it marks the organization’s first overseas series.
“It is an opportunity to inspire future generations and instill a sense of pride and belonging in Maori youth, encouraging them to embrace their cultural heritage and pursue their dreams with passion and determination,” says Trowill.
This is the second time Trowill has been selected for the team, having previously played in the inaugural campaign against Indigenous Australians in 2018. Back then, it was just a one-game series, which New Zealand Maori Women won 5-0. .
“What Māori Football Aotearoa is doing as an organization is huge. They are creating opportunities and pathways for talented Maori, especially our emerging young Maori, who have been seen in other sporting codes such as rugby and rugby league for many years,” says Trowill.
The 20-person team is packed with Maori talent from across New Zealand and even a couple of Australian-based players.
But Trowill says this trip goes beyond just playing football and is a chance for the players to come together and embrace their culture and Whakapapa Maori.
“Soccer has the power to unite people of diverse backgrounds and it will be great to connect and learn,” she says.
Following the international tour in Australia, Māori Football Aotearoa will have U18 youth teams competing against Hawaii in Auckland.
This is Trowill’s second season after succumbing to a foot injury in 2014 that led to three separate surgeries in 2016, 2018 and 2021.
She previously represented the New Zealand High School Girls team in 2013 and played in the Auckland National Soccer League. Trowill now plays for Central United in the Lotto NRFL Women’s Championship.
“It was a long, hard eight years both mentally and physically during that period of injuries and operations. It is honestly an absolute relief to be walking and running pain free again.
“My main goal now is just to enjoy the sport for what it is. I enjoy being able to go out on the field with my teammates and play the game that I love and not take it for granted or anything,” she says.
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