Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will stay on as Manchester United manager in the English Premier League until at least 2024.
It’s not every day a 16-year-old gets the chance to fulfil her dream, but young Marconi defender and Western Sydney Wanderers’ ball-girl Ella Sievwright is well on the way.
Ella is one of 35 young ladies who are part of the inaugural ‘Future Wander Women Program’. The 20 week program is designed to unearth the rich footballing talent that exists in western Sydney.
Over 200 girls tried out for the program, with 35 success triallists beginning the journey last month that may one day end up in the Wanderers’ W-League squad.
“For me this program is an extremely big deal,” said Ella, who studies at Marian Catholic College. “I grew up with football and looked up to women’s teams like the Matildas and the Wanderers, these women have a huge impact on where I want to see myself in the future.
“I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of this life changing program.
“Now I can continue to improve my skills and abilities and incorporate them into my own club’s training sessions and games, which helps me influence my team as well.”
Ella’s Wanderers’ journey started out six years ago, when she began volunteering for the Red & Black with her father Richard. The Sievwrights are loyal Western Sydney fans, and can be seen at each W-League and A-League game every weekend.
“Season 2015/2016 was when I first started my role as a ball girl,” explains Ella. “The opportunity to sit on the side lines and have a front row seat to each home game was surreal.
“This experience has led to me meeting and getting to know past and current Wanderers’ players and being able to call myself a WSW Volunteer. I have also been a flag bearer and ball kid for our A-League team as well as also being the Wanderers’ mascot ‘Sunny’.”
Ella first started playing football at the age of five in western Sydney for Rouse Hill Rams, who are one of the biggest clubs in the recently formed Hills District.
She has developed her skills across the western Sydney region, plying her trade at a number of high profile clubs, before landing at powerhouse Marconi.
“I first started playing soccer in 2010, I played for my local club Rouse Hill Rams for four years, then moved to Hills Brumbies, playing with the boys for another two years.
“In 2017 I moved to Mount Druitt Rangers for a year and then to Inter Lions. For the past three years, I have been playing at Marconi Stallions in their NPLW program. I am currently playing under 17s and Reserve Grade each week.”
Marconi has a rich history of producing world class footballers. In Ella, they have a player that is not only willing to do the hard yards to get there, but one that is committed to taking the next step in her footballing adventure.
The ‘Future Wander Women Program’ is run by Wanderers’ Technical Director Ian Crook, with the head coach being Linda Khamis, the sister of former Matilda and current Wanderers’ forward Leena Khamis.
Ella admits working with Linda and some current Wanderers’ W-League stars has been an exciting part of the set-up.
“Honestly there are so many things in this program that are hard not to like,” she says. “The coaching staff are a major part of this, both Linda Khamis and Libby Copus-Brown have so much experience, and the knowledge they are able to give us which we are able to incorporate into our game helps us to improve the way we see and play the game.
“I like that I have the opportunity to improve my skills and that I have the opportunity to be a future Wanderer and take the leap into such a fast and skillful game.
“Most importantly I loved meeting the other girls. I am so lucky and thankful to have an opportunity to meet such wonderful people.”
While she has a long way to go to achieve her potential and her dream, Ella doesn’t have to look very far for inspiration.
One of her favourite players is recently capped Matilda, and Wanderers’ star defender Courtney Nevin.
“There are many players that I would consider as role models that have an influence on me,”admits Ella. “Past and present WSW W-League players have inspired me to keep playing.
“However, Courtney Nevin has had a big impact on my game, with both of us playing the same position at left back.
“She is my inspiration as a player, the way she is able to attack and defend from her position, her fitness and skill levels are remarkable.
“Watching her play for Wanderers and now the Matildas at such a young age shows that it is possible for me to have the opportunity to work for a spot in the Wanderers’ W-league side.
“Past Wanderer (2012-2016) Rachael Soutar is one of the many people who helped inspire me to play football. She was the first ever Wanderer I had met. Back in 2015 when I went to my first ever W-league game, she came over and introduced herself.
“At the last home game of that season she came up and gave me her jersey. I remember putting on her number 6 jersey for the first time, thinking that this was my dream, that I wanted to be able to wear that Red & Black badge and be able to call myself a Wanderer.
“Now here I am with 34 talented girls who inspire me to improve and strive for a chance to play in the W-League.”
Ella’s story is sure to be an inspiration to any young budding footballer out there. With the W-League only getting bigger, and the Women’s World Cup coming to Australia and New Zealand in 2023, the future of women’s football down under is in good hands.