Just a few weeks ago, South Melbourne girls Elwen Parbery and Grace Taranto took to the pitch in Adelaide helping to guide the Victorian Under 13 Schoolgirls to a win in the Pacific School Games. The team swept all before them finishing undefeated at the top of the table.
The tournament is the flagship event of School Sports Australia bringing together some 4,000 students from each state and territory and 12 other countries to participate in 9 different sports.
Parbery and Taranto were selected to represent Victoria at Under 13s level joining players from around the state. NSW and Queensland had won all previous tournaments except for 2014 when NSW and Victoria shared the trophy. The result in 2015 therefore was a significant achievement for the girls and their squad.
The two stand-out matches for Victoria were against NSW where the 3-0 win was the first win over those north of the border in 18 years, and a win over Queensland where the girls came back from 0-2 down inside 10 minutes to win 4-2.
Taranto played as a centre forward setting up multiple goals for the Victorian team and scoring 3 of her own. Parbery also provided a number of assists however her real value came as a defender where her strength across the back ensured Victoria conceded just 3 goals across 6 matches.
Parbery joined South Melbourne Womens in early 2015 making the switch with Technical Director Socrates Nicolaides from Northcote City. She played in the Under 16s which was recognition of her maturity and technical ability and when the fixture allowed she graced the pitch in the Under 12s.
Talking to smfc.com.au, Parbery reflected on the recent success with the state team saying “We had a great tournament winning all games and the tournament. We followed our coach’s instructions and played good football with high pressure and quick passing and worked as a team. Plus we never panicked even when we went 2-0 down against Queensland. We enjoyed ourselves and developed new friendships”.
After just a year at South, Parbery will be at a new home in the new year having been selected in the Under 13 squad at the FFV National Training Centre. The opportunities at South will hold her in good stead at the NTC. Talking about her time at South, Parbery said “playing in the Under 16s at South Melbourne this year taught me to be stronger physically and to play faster under more pressure. I think this experience helped me to get into the state team. It is good playing against stronger players to improve your own game. I have improved the way I use my body this year plus first touch, passing and become more confident and aggressive”. Parbery hopes to wear the South Melbourne strip again in the future!
Parbery’s South colleague at the Pacific School Games was Grace Taranto. Grace played in the Under 12 boys team in the National Premier League as part of the squad who finished on top of the ladder. Taranto’s abilities and growth in the game impressed her coach not just on the pitch but also off the pitch.
Youth coach Sasa Kolman spoke with smfc.com.au saying “Grace is a tenacious, aggressive, and very intelligent holding midfielder. She loves to run forward and get involved in attacking actions but exactly knows when is the need to drop back too. Sometimes I feel sorry for opposition when she is playing because she doesn’t let them breathe at all, I absolutely love this kind of player.”
Kolman also looked back over the year on how Taranto has developed as a young player saying “she was a bit unlucky with an ankle injury which affected here but picked it up again at the end of the season and became a better player. She was faster, smarter more attacking and scored some goals. The opportunity to play in the state representative squad, or at any representative level is always welcome. Playing with and against different kids teaches different styles and techniques, its a great learning processs.”
The Victorian team played six matches finishing undefeated on 18 points, scoring 19 goals whilst conceding just 3.