FUTURE STARS: Three Colours SC junior prodigies Ethan Maiorana, 12, Nebraska Wilkie, 15, Toby Jessup, 15, and Elizabeth Cufari, 13, know the highways out of Sunraysia well. The dedicated quartet all live locally but travel away each weekend to play for National Premier League soccer clubs. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
SUNRAYSIA athletes know the dedication it takes to make it to higher levels of competition.
Four young soccer guns from Three Colours SC have taken it to a new level.
Elizabeth Cufari, Ethan Mairoana, Toby Jessup and Nebraska Wilkie live and attend school in Sunraysia but spend their weekends playing for their respective National Premier League (NPL) clubs in Adelaide and Bendigo.
The quartet and their families know the highways out of Sunraysia well, but are happy to do so to ensure the rising stars have their best chance of taking their careers further.
Elizabeth, 13, has been in dominant form for Adelaide club Fulham United in the Under 13 Girls – Red division.
The striker has netted a huge 21 goals in just 10 games, and has turned plenty of heads in the process.
Elizabeth had to play alongside the boys in the junior grades at Three Colours and she is happy to be playing amongst the girls.
“There are more opportunities to be seen in Adelaide and to play against other good players,” she said.
“In Mildura I had to play with the boys, but for Fulham I can play in the girls competition.
“It’s a lot stronger competition and you’re against some really good players.
“I’d love to try and make it into the Matildas when I get older.”
Ethan, 12, and Toby, 15, both made West Torrens-Birkalla FC their home away from home in South Australia’s capital.
Ethan, who plays on the left wing, said travelling each week has not been an issue for him.
“It’s been pretty easy actually,” he said.
“Thursday afternoon we go over and stay for the weekend and I train Thursday and Friday before playing.
“It’s a lot faster with the play of the ball.”
Toby, a centre midfielder, previously attended State representative trials and was told his best chance to take his career further would be to play for an NPL club.
“We didn’t know what an NPL club was at the time,” Toby said.
“We had to do some research and we decided on ‘Birkalla’.
“It’s been good. The players are a lot stronger than in Mildura and it’s a bit faster. I have to run a lot playing centre midfield.
“The travelling isn’t too bad. The trip gets a bit long sometimes but I don’t mind.
“I just want to make it as far as I can.”
Nebraska, 15, is in his second season for Bendigo City.
After spending his first season playing on a wing and up front, Nebraska has spent the majority of 2017 playing in his preferred midfield position.
“Earlier this year I got an opportunity to play in the midfield and I managed to be best on ground,” he said.
“It was a great feeling and I was glad to get some game time in my favoured position.”
Nebraska was in some good form, however he is currently in a moon boot after breaking his toe in a match.
“I’m hoping I’ll be back playing within four to six weeks,” he said.
“It’s frustrating having to stay on the sidelines though.
“I want to take soccer as far as I can go. I’d love to be able to play overseas but even if there are opportunities to play at a higher level in Australia, I’d be happy with that too.”
Many sporting opportunities come due to dedication and work rate. The way these Three Colours alumni are going, it might be their name that ends up in lights.