Belfast Telegraph

Wylie is quick to heap praise on his devoted girls

By Stuart McKinley

Alfie Wylie has praised the attitude and commitment of his Northern Ireland women's team ahead of their final World Cup qualifying double header.

Our girl's team is among a very rare breed in international football, in that they are complete amateurs, with no payment received for playing for their country.

Indeed, many of them have to take time away from their day jobs in order to fulfil their dream of playing international football and that is why Wylie wants to give them the best opportunity of finishing the campaign with a victory after going eight games, so far, without a win.

"I give these girls a lot of credit because the very fact they are here shows how much they want to play for Northern Ireland," said Wylie, ahead of tonight's final away game in Poland, which is followed on Wednesday by a meeting with the Faroe Islands at Mourneview Park.

"They aren't getting paid to play international football, some use up their annual leave from their jobs and they make that choice and sacrifice to be here.

"That commitment is a real positive for me as a manager."

The attitude of the squad can therefore be summed up in one player, who is hoping to make her international debut this evening.

"We were hit with a couple of late pull outs and on Monday night at about 10pm I gave Alex Ogle a call," said Wylie.

"I asked her what she was doing for the rest of the week and if she would like to come to Poland with us.

"At ten past eight the next morning she rang me back to say that she had been given permission by her boss to get the time off work and on Wednesday morning she was flying out with us from Belfast."

While the newcomers make a big commitment to the Northern Ireland cause, it is even greater for the established players who have been involved for a number of years.

"By the end of the campaign on Wednesday night we will have called up 34 players, albeit they haven't all played," said Wylie.

"Six of them, Emma Higgins, Julie Nelson, Ashley Hutton, Nadene Caldwell, Laura Rafferty and Marissa Callaghan, have been involved in every game.

"In total they will have been away from their jobs for 29 days throughout the campaign – and that doesn't include weekends – so that shows their commitment."

The Northern Ireland under-19 women's team is also in action today.

They are in Finland, where they face Georgia in the first game of their European Championship qualifying group, before meeting Greece on Monday followed by their final game against the Finns next Thursday.

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