Jess Burns only started playing futsal a few months ago. However, the 12-year-old has been named in the Australian under 13 team to head to Barcelona in November for international competition.
This follows the national titles held in sweltering conditions in Penrith, where Jess was goalkeeper for the championship winning Manning side. She was named in the All Star Five at the conclusion of the tournament and also the top goal keeper.
Jess is the first Manning River Times-Iguana Sportstar of the Week for 2018, earning a $50 open order at Iguana.
While she’s been playing soccer since she was six, Jess is a newcomer to the indoor form of the game.
Her Skills Acquisition Program (SAP) coach, Mick Grass, suggested she try futsal during the off-season and she joined a team for the competition played at Saxby’s Stadium. Last October she was named in the Manning side for the nationals.
Jess admits she wasn’t really sure what to expect at the Australian championships. Here Manning excelled, losing just one match before winning the grand final, as reported earlier this week in the Times. Three Manning players, Jess, Charlie Norton and Saffron Grass were named in the All Star Five.
Futsal can be a frantic game where there’s plenty of pressure on the goalie.
“You have to be aware all the time in futsal,’’ Jess explained.
“Otherwise you can get caught out, because things happen quickly.’’
Jess’s trip to Barcelona will be her first time overseas and by far the longest time she’s spent in a plane. It will also be the culmination of what will a busy season of soccer. She’s been named in the Football Mid North Coast under 14 team to play in the Women’s Premier League (WPL) to start in February. Training resumes next week for the competition that runs until September.
Jess admits to being a bit nervous about playing in the older age group. She’ll also have to mix training at Taree and Port Macquarie during the season as well as travelling to Newcastle for matches.
She previously played with the Old Bar Barbarians in the FMNC southern competiton, begining as a six-year-old. This year she was a member of the winning Football Mid North Coast under 12 side at the Northern NSW championships, where she didn’t concede a goal.
Soccer always interested her when she was younger.
Within a season of starting the game she had found her niche in goals.
“I love being in the action,’’ she said.
“But I don’t like running that much.’’
So goal keeper was a perfect fit. Now one day she hopes to be in goals for the Matildas.