Manning Futsal’s under 12 girls team took out the AFA national club championships held in Sydney.
In sweltering conditions the girls progressed through the pool rounds, dropping only one game on the way to the semi-finals.
Competing at the tournament with a relatively small squad of seven players, the team looked to be suffering from the effects of fatigue in their final pool game which they lost 3-1, but came back the next morning to completely dominate their semi against Queensland City Maroon, winning 4-1. The grand final against Victoria was played in front of a large, and extremely vocal crowd, to the point that the players were unable to hear each other on the court. The game couldn't have started better for Manning when Saffron Grass beat two players to score in the second minute. Both teams had their chances throughout the first half with Manning having the better of the play until halftime. Just after halftime Manning put the final nail in Victoria's coffin with Alira Knight tapping in at the far post after an assist from Saffron Grass. At that point the game was effectively over as Manning peppered their opponent's goal time after time. There were no more goals however and Manning won the title with a 2-0 victory.
This group of girls worked extremely well together as a team but individually they also had some exceptional moments. Jorja Holborrow and Jasmine Robertson set the tone every game with their tireless work ethic while Ginger Harrison, who went into the tournament under an injury cloud, was all class, particularly with her defensive work. Alira Knight was uncanny in her knack for popping up and scoring when it was needed the most, her hat trick in the first game, and the clinching goal in the grand final were the highlights. Jess Burns in goals and Charlie Norton were both standout players for Manning throughout the tournament with both girls being named in the All Star Five at the presentation evening. It was Saffron Grass however, who scooped the pool, winning every individual award available. Saffron won the Golden Boot award for the most goals in the competition and was awarded the grand final most valuable player (MVP) award. She was also named in the All Star Five which meant three of the All Star Five were Manning Futsal players.
This was the third grand final in a row for Manning Futsal's 12's girls and the second time they have won the national title, previously winning in 2016 . It's been an exciting recent run of success for Manning Futsal, having never made a finals series at the national championships before 2016. Continued identification and development of players such as those in the 12 girls should see that success continue.