The records tumbled on Tuesday night in Wellington. New Zealand's U-17 women's team recorded the first-ever win by a Kiwi team in a FIFA women's event, became the first New Zealand side to score three goals in a match at a FIFA competition, and produced the Oceania nation's first scorer of a hat-trick at such an event, in the shape of 15-year-old Rosie White.
And there can be few more deserving hat-trick heroes than White, who has learned at a very young age just how fickle a footballer's career can be. In a match against the USA in the Future Stars tournament, in January of this year, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament, an injury which required major surgery - and almost cost her her place at the U-17 tournament. "I'd never even had a serious injury from the time I started playing the game," recalled White recently, "and knowing I was requiring an operation was devastating news."
But her determination to play in the showpiece event on home turf was not to be gainsaid, and Operation Recovery started immediately. She made sure to keep her knee strong before the surgery, and spent the post-operative period building up her strength in the gym and on the training bike. Sure enough, by as early as September, she had made a return to competitive football. "After going through the experience, I feel a more rounded athlete. I think it was quite beneficial for me, but I definitely wouldn't wish it to happen again!"
And so to 4 November, 2008. In the midst of howling wind and rain in Wellington, White scored a classic striker's hat-trick against South American champions Colombia, to give New Zealand their historic 3-1 win; one with the right foot, one with the left, and one with the head to cap it off. How did she feel after the game?
"It hasn't really hit home yet, but even thinking about it gives me goosebumps!" she exclaimed. "At one [goal] I was pretty happy, but with three, I'm ecstatic." She is confident, too, that her feat will be duplicated by Football Ferns of the future. "I think that in years to come New Zealanders will be scoring more and more goals, and winning games [at FIFA events]. I'm certainly not the last," she predicted confidently. She had kind words, too, for her team-mates, who had provided her with the bullets to fire against the Colombians. "Everyone was class tonight, it wasn't just me."
And White isn't finished yet. She will form part of John Herdman's New Zealand squad for the U-20 tournament in Chile later this month, and all the Kiwis' opponents will know to be wary of a striker who is full of self-belief, and determined to put the struggles of the past year behind her. "Scoring in a FIFA competition is a huge confidence-booster," she said. "I'm really looking forward to Chile now!"