Wednesday 8, August 2017
Aniela Jensen took to the stage to make her international debut at the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship in Samoa yesterday afternoon.
The J.S. Blatter Football Complex in Apia hosted New Zealand and New Caledonia Tuesday, where starting and playing Centre Midfield, Jensen, made her debut by scoring the opening goal with an excellent volley, putting the Kiwis in the lead.
“I was really pleased to have scored a goal on debut and happy that I got to play my first international match with strong players from across the country,” Jensen said.
The Manawatu native has taken full advantage of being part of the national team and environment. Having worked extremely hard to get this stage, Jensen isn’t taking her experience lightly. She was ecstatic after seeing her name on the team announcement sheet, which stated that she would be starting during the game against New Caledonia.
“It made me feel really proud and also nervous. I know I have to keep working hard to allow me to keep getting game time,” she said.
To be part of a potential World Cup qualifying team is exciting and the stakes are often high. Jensen describes the environment and her experience so far with the New Zealand U-16’s as challenging, but equally rewarding.
“It’s very professional- you have to work hard on and off the pitch to get opportunities to start. In saying that, my time in Samoa so far has been great- all of the coaches and players are really nice and I’m enjoying the experience.“
Despite the sweltering heat coupled with humidity that Jensen has experienced competing in Samoa, she points out that preparation and maintenance off the field are vital for performance on the field.
“We do a lot of video presentation where we get to watch footage, which the coaches have highlighted areas around what we are doing well and where we can improve. This helps us to better understand what we are trying to accomplish on the field. It’s also very important that we recover fully, so we do a lot of work around recovery and hydration to ensure we maximize our performance.”
Jensen and the U-16’s will look to compete again in their final Group A game against the host, Samoa this Saturday. If the group carries over their momentum from the tournament thus far, they will look to capture another victory, continuing their perfect record.