Ronisa Lipi is learning to become more aggressive.
The Wellington East pupil carries three pieces of advice – dominate, be brave and talking – with her when in goal for the Young Football Ferns.
Lipi has been encouraged to come off her line and "attack the ball".
"I've been trying to attack the ball more and make sure I'm communicating with the backs," she said.
Lipi, 16, has been following her instructions to good effect and seems to have the inside running to be the No1 goalkeeper for the under-17 women's World Cup, in Azerbaijan in September.
Lipi, who had not been confident of superseding Canterbury goalkeeper Lily Alfeld in the pecking order, has not conceded a goal in her last four games for the national under-17 team.
She has impressed the Young Ferns coaching staff and Michael Greene, Lipi's coach with the Waterside Karori central league team, has also seen an improvement in her game.
"I think her involvement with the New Zealand scene has spurred her on," Greene said. "It has made her more ambitious and she has shown a lot more drive.
"She has been doing the hard yards and has improved technically over the past year and more so recently.
"She has a good attitude to training and will be doing a lot of work this winter with [Young Ferns goalkeeping coach] Nigel Piper, who is based in Wellington."
Lipi began playing for Waterside Karori as a 14-year-old. "I think she has the talent to become the No1 New Zealand goalkeeper one day," Greene said. "She's got some great shot-stopping ability. There are natural skills there that she will be able to build on and she's willing to put her body on the line. She has a good enough boot on her but probably needs to develop her left foot a bit more, though she is working on that."
Waterside Karori won the central league title last year but have lost some significant talent this year, which will have an upside for Lipi.
"We have lost some handy players and it will be a more even competition this year, which means that Ronisa will get more action," Greene said.
Lipi, a year 12 pupil, was born in American Samoa and first played football there but has always been a goalkeeper.
Her commitments to the Young Ferns means she will not play for the Wellington East first XI this year, but she is coaching one of the junior teams.
The girls' secondary schools football competition begins this week, with the premier teams split into three divisions, with five rounds to be played before the makeup of the regional competition is finalised.
St Pat's Silverstream were held to a draw by Rongotai in the opening round of grading games in the boys competition last weekend. Wellington College beat St Bernard's 5-3 in the same pool, with Tawa having a 2-1 victory over Hutt International.
Silverstream meet Tawa this Saturday with Wellington College taking on HIBS and St Bernard's clashing with Rongotai. "It's a very tough pool," Wellington College coach Ross Durant said. "I think all the teams will take points off each other over the five games. St Bernard's looked a good side and I was impressed with Rongotai in the pre-season tournament."
In the other pool, St Pat's Town beat Hutt Valley 3-1, Scots had a 5-2 victory over Wellington High and Paraparaumu beat Onslow 4-1. Scots and Paraparaumu clash on Saturday, with Town meeting Wellington High and Onslow up against Hutt Valley.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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