Club spirit will boost Technical: Whittaker

Dunedin Technical Football player Chelsea Whittaker trains at Logan Park on Tuesday night. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Dunedin Technical Football player Chelsea Whittaker trains at Logan Park on Tuesday night. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Chelsea Whittaker is making up for lost time.

The Dunedin Technical midfielder will line up in the centre of midfield for her side in the Kate Sheppard Cup final in Auckland on Sunday. The national final will pit Dunedin Technical against Auckland side Forrest Hill Milford United at QBE Stadium in North Harbour.

Whittaker (22) missed last year's semifinal loss to Glenfield in the cup competition as she had torn her anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee and was in recovery mode.

''I missed last year, which was gutting, but I think that game has helped us this year. There is a lot more self-belief in the team,'' she said.

''In the semifinal in Wellington, we had an amazing time. We played as a team and everyone supported each other. I know it is a bit of a cheesy thing to say but we just played for each other. Put everything out there.''

Whittaker has played for Dunedin Technical ever since she started playing seriously and said the club spirit and the support of the region would give the side a boost on Sunday.

The team did not know a lot about Forrest Hill Milford United but was expecting a tough battle.

Forrest Hill Milford United is looking to secure its second title in three years. It is the first year the national women's knock-out cup has been known as the Kate Sheppard Cup.

Whittaker is back in Dunedin fulltime after four years of study at McKendree University, in the town of Lebanon in the United States. She came back to play for Technical each year in her college summer break.

McKendree is a liberal arts college with a relatively small roll of 4000.

Whittaker played for the football team which she was there and said it was a high standard and a lot of fun.

Playing in the Great Lakes Valley conference, the team won two conference championships.

''It was probably the equivalent of a national league here, or maybe a little below but that depends on who you were playing against.

''I learnt a lot about my game when I was there. Just the way the game is played. It was a different style of football. Less technical then here and more about tactics and more physical.

''I loved it though. It was a bit smaller than a lot of universities so the classes were smaller and you had better contact with the teachers. Plus I did a bit of travelling. Being in Illinois you could go to some different places most people don't go too.

''It was very cold in the winter. A different kind of cold though, dry cold. Down to 20degC below. If you went outside and your hair was wet, it would freeze instantly.''

She graduated with an arts degree majoring in psychology and also did some papers in management and leadership. She is now working for ACC.

There was a temptation to stay in the United States for another year but the pull of home was too great and she decided to come back.

''It was a great place but there is no place like home. I can still do some travelling in the future.''

When she went to the United Kingdom in 2015, she trained with the Blackburn Rovers women's side, an opportunity she really enjoyed.

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