Fourteen-year-old Nia Stamatopoulos was in tears when her father Peter told her he’d received an email on a late weeknight.
Nia was invited to the U-17 women’s national team selection camp and is off to Canberra this morning. It will be the first of a possible three camps with the Mini Matildas.
The teenager comes from a basketball background and now enjoys playing football as an attacking midfielder. She admires Matilda Katrina Gorry due to their similarities in height and playing style.
She is currently at FFV NTC (National Training Centre) and only started playing football three years ago. She fell in love with the game after her older brother, Arthur, convinced her to play.
Currently living in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, Nia has big dreams, but doesn’t feel undue pressure from herself or her parents.
“I don’t really feel pressure, I just love what I do and I’ll keep on doing that,” Nia told FourFourTwo.
“I’d love to represent my country and also play in the W-League. I’d also love to play overseas, that’d be a massive privilege.
“Some weeks are harder than others, but school really helps with balancing it out and helping me out with finishing my homework.
“If I have any problems, the teachers will help me and think of something that will benefit both of us. It’s not too difficult at this stage.
“My parents have had a massive influence with my football so far. From taking me to training, waking up early for school training sessions. Just the support, they’re always there.”
Nia has experience at Northcote City, but now currently trains three nights a week with NTC.
Her father Peter said he was proud of her and felt she had sacrificed a lot as a 14-year-old.
“Initially she wanted to start playing soccer to give it a go and it was just for fun,” Peter said.
“Just watching her evolve in a short period of time. It’s up to her, but we hope to see her achieve her goals and dreams. A lot of kids deserve it, I can only speak on the behalf of my daughter.
“They have their game plan and they know where and when they need to run. We don’t get involved because we don’t understand and we don’t want to confuse them.
“She asks us after each game, ‘What did you think?’ and we’re pretty honest. We’ll tell her what she did really well and what she probably should’ve done better.
“It’s not intense and she’ll get the proper feedback from her coach.”
Nia also gave credit to her dog, Xena, for helping her improve her speed.
She said she enjoyed drawing and sketching in her spare time and was keen to pursue that in her tertiary studies.
“I want to go to university in a couple of years, it’s important to have an education with plan B,” she said.
“I’m thinking architecture and I like 3D as well. I do like drawing and it’s something that I find relaxing.”
Peter said his daughter had a good balance between football, school and her social life.
“I grew up doing the same thing, playing soccer and for me it was a great outlet,” he said.
“You have your time at school, you have your time for study and have your outlet. You have time to train and socialise with your friends, it’s better than sitting in front of a (television) box.”