FOOTBALL pre-season is looking a whole lot different for 17-year-old Paige Pinson this year.
The young defender was recently recruited by Victorian football powerhouse South Melbourne and its under 19 program.
Having just completed year 12 at Moama Anglican Grammar School, this pocket rocket juggled her studies with a part-time job at the Moama Bowling Club and playing for the Moama-Echuca Border Raiders, where she captained the side to the preliminary finals.
Ultimately, she took the initiative herself to make it to the big leagues.
‘‘Being a country kid, it’s harder to go to the city as no one really knows you,’’ she said.
‘‘I emailed South Melbourne with some of my achievements and asked if I could trial with them.’’
During her exams, Pinson went to Melbourne to complete three rounds of trials, where she officially cemented a place with Australia’s most successful football club.
Pinson quickly caught the eye of her new coach, Jorge Leon.
‘‘From the onset at trials, Paige demonstrated confidence on the field and natural leadership qualities,’’ he said.
‘‘Her technical skills were amongst some of the best and she was cool under pressure, exhibiting clear tactical thinking.’’
Pinson is training locally but once the side’s season starts on December 4, she will be travelling down to the city at least three times a week.
The enormous amount of travel will be made possible with the help of Pinson’s dedicated parents, friends, public transport and hopefully any sponsorship — which the Moama local is currently searching for.
Having started her soccer career at the Border Raiders at the age of six, Pinson soon developed a love for the sport, which saw her thrive on and off the field.
She played her first senior game aged just 11, and Pinson soon went on to play for Epsom and Victoria, at the Country Championships and the Bendigo Academy, and even with the boys’ under 16 team.
In her career to date, Pinson has won a stack of awards, including two consecutive Border Raiders best and fairests.
A proud captain of the Border Raiders, Pinson’s now former coach Darryl Brown saw plenty of potential in the gun defender.
‘‘She’s arguably the best player we’ve had in recent years,’’ he said.
‘‘She has the knowledge, the skill and the passion. She has a bit of cheekiness too, which adds a bit of fun and makes the whole experience enjoyable.
‘‘She’ll go far.’’
But for Paige, her recent achievement is only the beginning.
‘‘The dream is to play for the Matildas and go to the Women’s World Cup,’’ she laughed, with a clear undertone of determination in the young star’s voice.