By HENRY MORABANG
AFTER representing the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) in 2008 at the annual John Bomben Tournament in Cairns, Australia, Nicollette Ageva never thought she would make another outbound trip from Buka Island again.
The 18-year-old is a member of the PNG Under-20 women’s training squad, who is trying to win a spot for the 2016 International Federation of Association Football (Fifa) World Cup next month.
As a 10-year-old, she played soccer for the love of the game at the Hanahan Primary School sports ground.
Her dedication and perseverance paid dividends when she was rewarded a spot in the U10 team to travel to Cairns for the Bomben tournament.
Her passion for the game did not stop after the North Queensland trip.
She continued her dream of one day playing for the country by starring for her primary school, Hanahan, on Buka Island.
She told The National that she started playing soccer at a young age and has no regrets.
“It was my dream to become a good soccer player and I thank God for giving me this talent which has taken me to Cairns, and given me the opportunity to play in a World Cup,” Ageva said.
After completing her primary education, she moved on to Hutjena High School, where she got selected to represent AROB at the PNG Games in 2014.
At the Games, the PNG Football Association talent scout took notice of her and asked her to be part of the women’s soccer development programme.
Ageva said she did not idolise any local or international player as she believed in her own talent to take on the world.
As a member of the PNG U20 women’s team, the 18-year-old has travelled the world.
She was part of team that travelled to Korea and then later to the US as part of preparations for next month’s event. Ageva said she learnt a lot of things as member of the PNG U20 women’s soccer team.
She said that during the trips, she learnt how to deal with the pressure of the international game and gained a lot of confidence playing with team-mates and against opponents.
“The (US) trip itself has had a great impact on me as an individual player because I learnt a lot from it,” Ageva said.
The Grade 11 student at Goroka Grammar School, wants to be a good role model once she walks out of the National Sports Institute, a place she has called home for the past 12 months.
She wants to continue playing soccer and represent the country at the senior level.
In the meantime, she is focused on winning a spot in the squad for next month’s World Cup.
By HENRY MORABANG