Sweet Sixteen and in the W-League

Our newest recruit is aiming for W-League game time.

It would be fitting to say that you could have “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong playing alongside this chat with the bright and youthful Nickoletta Flannery, the newest member of Canberra United’s Westfield W-League squad. At just the age of sixteen she has everything going for her, a studious discipline that her school, Canberra Girls’ Grammar, would be pleased to hear and the chance to continue her football education.  

Last Sunday – 20th September - Canberra United played a friendly against Monaro Tigers - who are a joint squad that is heading to Spain for a Football Development Tour on Friday. Although the young squad coached by Lino Fiorese held Canberra United off for most of the first half, the green machine came out with a 2-0 win. Coming on the field in the second half and making a friendly match debut Flannery impressed Head Coach Rae Dower, managing to hit a superb strike to bag a goal.

On top of the world, Flannery’s solid footballing foundations have served her well to jump into the next huge pool of professionalism with the Westfield W-League competition. Moving through the ranks in the ACTAS and Capital Football programs, Flannery was tapped on the shoulder at an ACTAS training one blue-skied afternoon by none other than Canberra United’s Head Coach and Flannery’s mentor, Dower. 

“Rae came over to me and said ‘how do you feel about being the 20th member for this season?” exclaimed Flannery. “My jaw dropped. It happened very quickly - last year I was training alongside the Canberra United squad and to now be a part of the team is exciting.” 

Flannery plays an important position on the field as a striker and amongst scoring goals, Nickoletta also has major career goals for the upcoming season. “Definitely to have a debut for Canberra United - hopefully a home game so my family can be there and I hope to represent Australia next year in the U20s squad alongside Grace Maher,” Flannery excitedly mentioned. 

Although Flannery now plays professional football her hand-eye coordination is also on point as she juggles homework and hardcore training, television interviews and English classes. Currently to take this interview she is missing a business class. In an environment where team mates are teachers, a mentor for Flannery is a former Matilda and 2014/2015 Westfield W-League player of the Grand Final. 

“Ashleigh Sykes is definitely a person I look up to. She’s a very similar player to me, she’s very fast, she’s just been at the FIFA World Cup,” Flannery mentioned. 

Like all great teachers they are impressionable, their words have powerful impact on those who listen and for young Flannery, even just a five minute chat gave her technical development. “I haven’t really spoken to her one-on-one much but the other night at training Sykes encouraged me to cross from my other side instead of the other side. In Canada [for the ACTAS tour] she was really supportive and said that she’d heard I played really well she’s just been really supportive.” 
 
Sykes hasn’t been the only figure Flannery admires – Coach Dower has been present on the scene for quite some time when Nickoletta was in the ACTAS program last year.  “She’s taught me a lot and to have her this season as ACTAS Coach and now have her as Canberra United Coach is really good because I can talk to her about anything and she’ll just advise me if I need to work on any areas.”

Picture: Canberra Times

Words: Louise Taffa