Onslow College footballers representing New Zealand in April

Two Onslow College footballers are preparing to represent the New Zealand U16 football team

Pepi Olliver-Bell (year 11) and Olivia Ingham (year 10) will be part of the 18-strong NZ Secondary Schoolgirls Football Association squad that also includes two Wellington East Girls’ College players, Anna McCarthy and Sammi Preval.

After first registering interest, the players were selected for this team late last year, following their performances at Winter Tournament Week and scouting by the selectors. The touring party was chosen from over 60 nominees and both Onslow players said they were surprised to be chosen.

The pair helped Onslow finish sixth in the Premier 1 division last year (after winning Premier 2 in 2018). The team then competed in the Maurice Hulme Tournament in Rotorua in tournament week, finishing ninth.

In their first week back at school, we caught up with both Onslow College footballers ahead of their upcoming trip.

Congratulations on your selection – what was your reaction when you got the call-up?

Pepi: I was stoked because I’ve always wanted to play in America. I didn’t really celebrate but my family were really happy for me.

Olivia: I was really excited to find out that I had been selected. I think I just gave my mum a big hug!

Will this be your first time representing NZ, and have you travelled overseas for football before?

Pepi: Yes, it will be my first time representing New Zealand. However last year I went overseas with my club team, Wellington United, to compete in the Gothia Cup in Sweden. This was an awesome experience which I got to enjoy with two other teammates, (Sammi Preval and Anna McCarthy), both of whom are also going to be travelling with this U16 NZ team, with Olivia and I.

Olivia: Yes – this is my first time travelling overseas for sport and also representing New Zealand.

What other representative and non-school representative and club teams have you played in prior to this NZ U16 one?

Pepi: I have represented Capital Football in the U14 and U16 National Age Group teams (2018 and 2019). I was lucky enough to be selected in the 2018 U14 National Age Group Tournament team. In April 2019 I was invited to the NZ U17 Identification Camp in Auckland.

In 2016 and 2017, I went with my Intermediate school, (Raroa Intermediate), to Tauranga to compete in the NZ AIMS Games girls football competition. We won the tournament in 2016 and I was named in the tournament team, and we were runners-up in 2017.

I play club football for Wellington United. Last year, in September, I went to the ‘Coastal Spirit Women’s U19 Football Tournament where we finished as runners-up.

Olivia: I have represented Wellington (Capital Football) at the National Age Group Champs in 2018 and 2019 and play my club football at North Wellington.

What positions do you play, and have you always played there?

Pepi: I currently play up front for my club team and sometimes mid-field. I’ve played most of my football mid-field or striker however, I have also played in defence. I’m happy to be a versatile player.

Olivia: Forward/Winger. I have always played either striker or out wide.

How did you start playing the game?

Pepi: I started playing ‘Little Dribblers’ when I was really young and remember that I was in the ‘Holland’ team.

Olivia: I started playing Little Dribblers when I was 4 and then girls only on a Sunday from age 7 (because I played rugby in my brothers team on Saturday!)

Tell us about a highlight or favourite or memorable footballing moment?

Pepi: The tournament I’ve most enjoyed to date was probably the ‘Coastal Spirit Women’s U19 Football Tournament’ in Christchurch last year because I personally had a good tournament and the team gelled together really well and had a lot of fun. We finished as runners-up.

Olivia: Probably in December last year when I scored a freekick against Northern for Wellington in the National Age Group Tournament and also being captain was good.

Do you also play futsal?

Pepi: Yes and I went to futsal nationals in 2018 with Capital Football but couldn’t go in 2019 due to the Wellington United trip to Sweden. I have played in the Secondary Schools futsal tournament and am looking forward to the 2020 tournament. I have also just started with the Samba futsal academy and train with the women’s team. I really enjoy the fast pace of this game and what it does for my foot work.

Olivia: Yes, I play futsal for the Onslow Senior Girls, as well as representing Wellington at the Futsal National Age Group Champs in both 2018 and 2019.

Do you play other sports?

Pepi: I have played a huge number of sports. I still currently play netball and have been in representative teams for this from 2017-2018. Unfortunately, due to football commitments, I can’t fit rep netball in any longer. I tried rowing last year and rowed at Maadi Cup for Onslow College. Although I enjoyed it, rowing also requires a massive time commitment which is why I can’t continue to row at present. I’ve played cricket, rugby, volleyball, basketball, tried athletics and used to swim. I’ll pretty much give anything a go.

Olivia: I do athletics over summer.

What would be your favourite and least favourite subjects at school?

Pepi: My least favourite was social studies, but I don’t need to take that anymore. My favourite subjects are English and Graphics. I also really like art but think it would be quite time consuming with my schedule so have decided not to take it this year.

Olivia: I really enjoy Maths, PE and Financial Literacy and don’t have a subject that I dislike.

Thank you and good luck for the trip to California and the year ahead! 

-Story courtesy of College Sport Media