Whyalla played host to a unique soccer match between the SA National Training Centre (NTC) Girls Team and the Under 16 Whyalla Select boys on Saturday.
The NTC Girls team, which is comprised of girls aged 15-18 years and run by Football SA, trained at the Northern Demons facilities in Port Pirie last Friday before traveling to the steel city to play at Croatia Park.
The game was part of a preseason camp for the NTC team, and was organised through a Whyalla connection in Goalkeeping Coach Zlatko Belanic, who is a life member of the Croatia Soccer Club.
"The Whyalla Soccer Association offered to give us a game and Croatia agreed to host the game," Head Coach Michele Lastella said.
Mr Lastella said the trip was a "fantastic" opportunity for the girls to get used to travelling in regional South Australia and playing on a bigger pitch against a stronger opponent.
While the Whyalla Select squad came out on top 2-0, Mr Lastella said the match was one where his team were able to adapt in the second half.
"Being able to adapt to your environment is really important and if you look at the first half compared to the second half I think the girls were able to adapt to the bigger pitch and bigger bodies," he said.
"We were very impressed with the quality of the Whyalla Croatia Clubrooms and the hospitality they received from the public. They were quite surprised at the history of Whyalla soccer.
"Being on the road together was a good bonding opportunity for them."
The main goal of the NTC squad is to develop female soccer players' skills with the end goal of playing in the W-League, Australia's top-division women's soccer league.
Mr Lastella thanked the Croatia Soccer Club and the Northern Demons for their support during the trip.
Kirsty Arbuckle, the Whyalla Junior Soccer Association Girls Select Coach, said the match was a wonderful opportunity for "our local and regional players to be exposed to high quality players".
"We've been working hard on Whyalla across many domains to encourage more females to play soccer. We are encouraging both higher numbers of participation and also for female players to strive to reach their full potential," she said.
"Seeing the NTC team play is great for setting goals for some of the players who aspire to be elite players themselves.
"I am encouraged to see that the age of the players will lead the Whyalla girls to think that that could be them in the not too distant future."