Reese is the word: From Mullum to training with the boys

FROM Mullumbimby to being invited to train with the boys, Reese Donnelly's rise through Palm Beach Currumbin State High's ranks has been meteoric.

Forbidden from playing football growing up due to her dad's affection with rugby, the 16-year-old only started playing football three years ago following a successful junior baseball career.

Now, she's regarded as one of the key forces in Palm Beach Currumbin's Queensland Schools Premier League (SPL) tilt since joining the sports excellence program last year in Year 10.

After showing her wares for the women in her maiden SPL campaign, Donnelly was invited to start training with the senior boys side and feels as though she can now match it with anyone.

"It's helped improve my football and has given me a lot more opportunity as well," she said. "It was really scary at the start because some people have a mentality that girls aren't as good as boys but I've managed to prove a point.

"It was hard to show I could match it at the start but now they all encourage me and the coaches full support me."

And despite pursuing football on the Gold Coast, including an emerging career with Gold Coast United's National Premier League Women's side which has seen her named on the bench as a teenager, Donnelly still lives and commutes daily from Mullumbimby.

"At the start, it took around two hours but you get used to it but it's worth it," she said.

"It's really hard and a lot of work and organisation between me and Mum but I'm used to it now.

"It was a bit scary because I didn't know anyone and I've come from NSW so being new to soccer and a new school was a bit daunting but the coaches and girls were very welcoming."

Beyond high school and PBC's SPL campaign which kicks off today against Aspley, Donnelly hopes to continue her pursuit of football overseas.

"It's been my goal since I was younger to go to college in America to play but I just want to follow soccer and see where it takes me," she said.

"I've already started applying for colleges through an agent but you have to do certain subjects and make a highlights video."

Palm Beach Currumbin's girls soccer team.  Pyper Lochead 17 at training. Picture Glenn Hampson
Palm Beach Currumbin's girls soccer team. Pyper Lochead 17 at training. Picture Glenn Hampson

EARLIER

BEING bestowed as captain in her final year of high school has proven the ultimate confidence boost for Palm Beach Currumbin senior footballer Pyper Lochead.

Since joining PBC's sporting excellence program in year seven, the 17-year-old has self-admittedly struggled for form and a starting spot in the reds' staring 11.

But with PBC losing a trio of star players to injury, Lochead has stepped up to field the void and will now have the opportunity to captain the side she's seen flourish over the past six years when the Queensland Schools Premier League kicks off on Wednesday.

"Stepping up as captain has given me the confidence to step on the field," Lochead said.

"I never used to believe in myself playing football but I've hit a point where I do.

"I get very nervous before games.

"I'm prepared physically but I find it hard to prepare mentally.

"It's my last year in high school so I'd love to win the final and take out a title for PBC.

"This team has grown so much like we've gone from 11 players and now we've got a squad of 20 so it's been amazing watching the program step up and be noticed."

Lochead, who is originally from just outside Hamilton in New Zealand, grew up watching her dad play football and is currently a member of the Logan Lightning NPL squad but hopes to play overseas in either England, the United States or home in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Palm Beach Currumbin senior boys' outfit will enter the competition starting on with the nucleus of the 2019 side which claimed the coveted trophy in 2019.

Palm Beach Currumbin SHS, a founding member of the SPL in 2009, claimed its fourth senior SPL boys title last year while the PBC girls have won the tournament twice.

"The senior boys team has seven members that won the competition in 2019 and the senior girls team is a relatively new squad for 2020,'' said PBC football excellence coach Shane Robinson.

Finn Tewson will lead the PBC open boys while Robinson expected Eli Hughes from the senior boys to impress because of his ability to create goal scoring chances.