Fulbrook grabs World Cup slot

Last updated 05:00 05/03/2014

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Emma Fulbrook hasn't had much time for cricket and athletics this summer.

Football has become Fulbrook's priority, with the Marsden College goalkeeper clinching a place in the Young Football Ferns side that leaves on Monday for the women's under-17 World Cup in Costa Rica.

Two Wellington players made the World Cup squad, with Fulbrook joined by centre back Hope Gilchrist (St Mary's).

Fulbrook, 16, is a multi-talented athlete who has made a mark at a high level in three codes. She has won two national titles and two North Island titles in the javelin and has been a Wellington under-21 cricket representative and 12th man for the Wellington Blaze provincial team.

However, she had to miss the national secondary schools athletics championships in December because of a clash with her football commitments and cricket has also been on the backburner.

"I'm still very torn between cricket and football but football has been my main focus since around July."

Fulbrook had set her sights on the under-17 World Cup after making an extended training squad early last year but her hopes looked slim after she was not named in the first training camp, in July, from which a team to tour Australia was named. "I was absolutely gutted and tears were shed."

But Fulbrook's response was to work harder on her game and she made the second training camp, late in the year, after a recommendation from Paul Greig, who coached the Capital team in the national women's league.

"Paul's been really supportive and encouraged me to work hard and Nigel Piper, the goalkeeping coach, has done a lot of work with me."

Fulbrook took her chances at the second camp and made the under-17 team that took part in a four nations tournament in California last month. She played in two of the three matches in California and a standout performance meant she has a strong chance of being the starting goalkeeper in Costa Rica.

"Emma has made so much progress," Young Ferns coach Jitka Klimkova said.

"I was very happy with her performance [in California] and she really showed her potential against the USA."

Gilchrist, who turns 16 today, spent the fourth term last year at St Mary's College in Auckland, so that she could play for the under-17 selection team in the national women's league.

She made the Young Ferns teams that played in Australia and California and has become a key defender.

"Hope is a really solid defender and has made so much progress since I saw her in July," Klimkova said. "She reads the game really well and organises the defensive line."

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The Young Ferns play their first game in the World Cup against Paraguay on March 17 (New Zealand time) and also meet Spain and Japan in pool play.

- Wellington

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