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Rapid rise for young soccer star

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Deborah Friend

A YOUNG soccer star could go all the way to the top if she keeps working as hard as she has to date.

Lilliana Knight, 14, who attends Proserpine State High School, is heading to the National Youth Championships (NYC) Competition for Girls Soccer, in NSW, this week.

Lilliana, from Conway, has been selected to represent Queensland in the Football Northern Territory Girls Soccer Team, at the NYC, in Wollongong, from Monday, October 9, to Friday, October 13, 2023.

The tournament serves as Australia’s single biggest talent identification event for pathways to the big time.

Lilliana, who is described by her mother Nadia as ‘determined, dedicated and committed’, wants to play soccer professionally and for her heroes, the Matildas.

The ‘high-performing and dependable’ centre-back’s growth has been rapid ever since she started playing soccer socially, at primary school.

“Lilliana has displayed remarkable progress and development according to her coaches,” proud mum Nadia said.

“Her attitude and work ethic are exemplary and she has shown an unwavering commitment to her football.

“She travels to Mackay for training, and all over the state up to four times a year, for regional and state soccer carnivals, playing in girls’ teams of Under 14s to Under 17s.

“She has now been retained for another year with the Football Queensland Academy, Whitsunday Coast (FQWC), for 2024, and travels to Mackay four to five times a week for soccer for the FQWC and the Dolphins Club soccer team.”

Lilliana’s rapid rise

Lilliana started playing soccer at primary school socially, transitioned to Proserpine Taipans, and played in the Under 10s (2019) and Under 11s (2020).

She has played various levels of Whitsundays school team and North Queensland Girls soccer teams for school competitions, since 2019, in Townsville, Cairns, Ayr, Toowoomba and other towns.

Moved to Airlie Beach Football Club under 12s (2021) and Under 13s (2022).

Tried out for Football Queensland Academy, Whitsunday Coast (FQWC) Team in 2022.

She was selected to play in this team in 2022 and 2023 and has been retained for 2024.

Moved to Dolphins Football Club in Mackay, in 2023, and now also plays for them.

Playing in three teams currently: Under 15s mixed, Women’s U23 reserve grade and Women’s premier league.

Lilliana and her team recently won the 2023 Football Queensland Grand Final for the U23 Women’s reserve grade (on September 15, 2023).

Preferred playing position: Centre-back. In her earlier years of football, Lilliana played left and right full-back. This season, she transitioned to centre-back.

The family has started a GoFundMe page to help Lilliana get to NSW and other competitions, as the expense of living regionally and playing soccer adds up. Go to: https://gofund.me/bb3fd939

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