- New Zealand’s Paige Satchell returned from serious injury in time for France 2018
- The Kiwis face Ghana and the host nation in their remaining matches
- The pacy winger is aiming to return to France for next year’s Women’s World Cup
Small in stature, but big in heart. It may seem a one-dimensional cliché, but that aptly describes New Zealand’s jet-heeled winger Paige Satchell.
As a school student, Satchell was a national cross-country champion. That achievement, however, came only after keeping a silver medal from the previous year on view as motivation for a greater reward. Told she could have time off after her win, Satchell chose instead to be back on the track the very next day.
Fast forward to the present and that unwavering spirit remains. Willowy and light-framed, Satchell plays football with dogged determination, while her speed and endurance catch many an opponent by surprise.
After a year out with a torn knee ligament, Satchell returned just in time for New Zealand’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France. The 20-year-old right-sided forward will be aiming to reprise her form of two years ago in Papua New Guinea, where she earned player of the match honours in a win over Ghana.
“It [the injury] definitely was a challenge,” Satchell told FIFA.com. “This was my first serious injury. It took a lot of hard work but a key thing for me was to keep a positive perspective.
“I used to watch my team play so that was a challenge for me, not being able to be on the pitch with them. But it was also a driving factor for me to keep going and to push to get back out there.”
With blinding pace and an ability to cause chaos to any defense, Satchell is a key weapon for the Kiwis at France 2018
New Zealand opened with a hard-fought 2-1 defeat against the Netherlands on the weekend. They now tackle France on Wednesday, before rounding out their group commitments against Ghana four days later. Coincidentally New Zealand faced both teams two years ago in Papua New Guinea and, their win over Ghana aside, the Kiwis pushed eventual runners-up France all the way before succumbing 2-0.
“I’m looking forward to this World Cup, hopefully making it out of the group stage and showing the world what New Zealand has got,” Satchell said.
“The highlight [two years ago] was the win against Ghana, which was very exciting for the team. It was my first win on the world stage so it was one to remember.”
Despite her tender years, Satchell has already accrued significant experience. She debuted for New Zealand’s senior side just weeks after celebrating her 18th birthday, and was a travelling reserve for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. Aside from PNG 2016, there were also three matches at the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.
“Every game we have at this level is an experience and a learning opportunity,” added Satchell. “Playing against those tough teams taught me so much, and I’m hoping to bring those experiences into this tournament.
“Watching the younger ones step up is awesome, and equally being able to help guide them on this journey is really nice.”
Proudly hailing from Rotorua, Satchell is on course to be a sporting champion for the tourist town which is more famous for a spectacular geyser and its bubbling mud pools.
Already with a handful of senior caps to her credit, Satchell is aiming to return to France next year for the FIFA Women’s World Cup™. Despite her major injury set-back, few would bet against it.
“That is a big goal of mine and it is something I’m working really hard towards. We have had a great time so far here in France. It is a beautiful country and I really want to come back here next year.”