Camden Haven midfielder Chelsea Hall has had her passion and determination rewarded after winning the 2021 Wayne Richards Sporting Scholarship for excellence in football.
The annual $4,000 sporting scholarship is awarded as part of the Port Macquarie-Hastings Sports Awards and a tribute to late former Mayor Wayne Richards.
Mayor Richards was instrumental in the formation of the Mayor's Sporting Fund in 1999.
The scholarship will assist Hall in pursuing sporting goals at state and national level.
"It was a massive shock to be awarded the scholarship because my teacher nominated me and I didn't expect anything to come from it," she said.
"The mayor (Peta Pinson) even came to my house and we had a pretty good chat. It was a big moment, even though it was raining at the time."
The 17-year-old from Bonny Hills is looking forward to finishing her year 12 exams at Camden Haven High School this year and training for another strong season with Mid Coast FC.
She has also previously been selected as a midfielder in the Northern NSW representative sides for national titles at Coffs Harbour in 2019.
Hall said the funding will enable her to purchase better football equipment, train and cover travel costs.
"Tracie McGovern (former Matilda midfielder and defender) also contacted me and offered to be my mentor, which is just the craziest thing. I've heard her story about coming up through this area to play football," she said.
"At the moment I don't know how to get to the next level so hopefully she will be able to help me. She has been there before so she might know how to get noticed by one of the women's A League teams or an academy.
"My main goal is to get into one of those A League teams, I'm a Sydney FC fan but I wouldn't mind being at any of the teams."
Retired Australian international football player Tracie McGovern, originally from Wauchope FC and the Newcastle Jets, said she will be watching closely for the next Matilda from the Hastings region.
"It's so great to see young local female footballers following in myself, Rhali Dobson and Caitlin Cooper footsteps," she said via video message.
"We'd love to see you (Chelsea) become the number four Matilda for the region and pull on a green and gold jersey at the Brisbane Olympics representing your country, your state, the Hastings region, your family and friends.
"Keep up the hard work, surround yourself with supportive people, and if you need a mentor I'm here for you and look forward to following your journey."
Port Macquarie-Hastings mayor Peta Pinson said Hall is a wonderful role model for young women across the region.
"Port Macquarie-Hastings has a strong history of producing elite sportspeople - and it's clear there is so much talent in our area," she said.
"Chelsea's hard work and dedication will ensure she has a bright future ahead - we can't wait to see her in the green and gold."
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