Former Cowplain talent relishing Aussie invasion

Former Cowplain football talent Jodie Burchell, right
Former Cowplain football talent Jodie Burchell, right
Jack Whatmough. Picture: Joe Pepler

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From Cowplain Youth team to representing Australia at futsal in the space of four years – it’s been an incredible journey for Jodie Burchell.

The starlet may now reside in the land Down Under but she first kicked a ball in Clanfield, her family home until June 2012.

And it was for Cowplain – the predominantly all-boys team Burchell captained aged eight – where the midfielder first displayed her early promise.

A spell with Chelsea’s academy followed in 2010 before her family emigrated two years later seeking greater opportunities.

Now, the adopted Aussie is set to return to her birth-country in 2014 – primed to give the Poms a good bashing as a member of her national under-14s futsal touring side.

Is she overwhelmed by the meteoric rise?

Not a chance, as the shy 13-year-old targets even more success in the future.

She said: ‘It’s been a really fast time in the last three years and I want to get even better.

‘I’m coming back to England in April to play futsal, which is amazing.

‘My main aim is still to play for the Australian Matildas at 11-a-side but my dream is also to play in the Commonwealth Games.’

Unfortunately for Burchell, the sports for the Australia 2018 Games – which will be held on her doorstep on the Gold Coast – have already been decided, without the inclusion of futsal.

But 2022 is a real possibility, with the sport under serious consideration for addition to that schedule.

Her father Nick – who was instrumental in securing his daughter a one-year contract with Chelsea – believes the sky is the limit for the prodigy.

He said: ‘She spent two years at Chelsea and learned a lot.

‘But then we emigrated in 2012 and found a place, literally in paradise, on the Gold Coast.

‘We moved close to Brisbane so it’d be easier to find work but the priority was always to find a school that would maximise her potential.

‘We chose Helensvale High School and it was playing for the school that grabbed the attention of Queensland state futsal team.

‘From there she did the trials, was outstanding and now she’s playing for Australia.’

Burchell is currently seeking donations and sponsorship to help her achieve her dreams.

‘Not to knock Australian sport, which is fantastic, but there is not really much funding available.

‘Even doing these tours costs 1,500 (Australian) dollars, which is about £1,000.

‘If she were to make it big and reach the top she would be earning well and it would be worth the sacrifice – but right now it is costly.”

‘With the talent she has, playing for the Matildas one day could happen but it will take a lot more time.’

But given the immense leap the starlet has made in such a short space of time, you definitely would not rule it out.

n Futsal is a variant of association football, played between two teams of five on a smaller pitch and mainly indoors.

The emphasis of the game is on improvisation, creativity and technique as well as ball control and passing in small spaces.