Media Release

FOOTBALL: Joeys Mini World Cup founder Heinrich Haussler hopes the excitement over the selection of Australia and New Zealand as the hosts the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will increase the level of interest from women players in the Fraser Coast event.

This year’s Joeys tournament will be played on five days starting at the end of September – expected to be the first major sporting carnival on the Fraser Coast since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March this year.

“Since introducing an open women’s category to Joeys Mini World Cup in 2011, we have been working hard each year to grow participation and offer women more opportunity,” says Heinrich.

There were five women’s teams in the first year, which grew to seven in year two and this year ten teams are expected to compete plus an additional six to eight teams in the new Under 13 Girls category.

Talented mid-fielder Lauren Rouse-Upjohn was the first Australian female Mini World Cup competitor to earn a fully-paid subsidy to tour Germany valued at $7,800. She was voted ‘Best Field Player’ in the women’s section of the Cup held in September/October 2011 at Inverell.

Rouse-Upjohn did so well during the four weeks of playing and intensive coaching in Germany and under the guidance of former Socceroos’ World Cup Coach, Rale Rasic, she scored a contract with Bundesliga Club SV Bardenbach.

“I was already planning to stay in Germany for a few months after the tour to visit family but when I was offered a spot with Bardenbach, I stayed for a year.”

There were so many highlights. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will always be grateful for. I think getting to know another culture and learning the language was challenging but such a good experience.

“I was lucky to have a family let me live with them in Germany. They really took me in, treated me as their own child and the place felt homely,” she said.

The move from playing in various representative teams in the New England Football League to securing a spot with a German Bundesliga Club was different.

Rouse-Upjohn said she had to step up her game, put hours into training and focus in on perfecting her skills to keep up with her team mates.

“The language barrier also made it difficult at first, but it’s a world game, so that was still the same.”Starting with Saturday soccer and progressing through New England Rep, NIAS, NIF and Newcastle’s women’s premier league, Rouse-Upjohn said her time playing with Joeys FC United was one of the most special.

Rouse-Upjohn said her main motivation to be better came from Joeys tournament founder Heinrich Haussler and coach Rale Rasic, who were always there for her.

Lauren Rouse-Upjohn was the first Australian female Mini World Cup competitor

“Rale Rasic is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. I wanted to do better because I wanted to hear that I did a good job. Both drove me to want to be better on and off the field.

“She encourages all female players to take the opportunity to grow their skills – on the field and off through the Fraser Coast Joeys Mini World Cup.

“The amount the Joeys Mini World Cup has grown over the years is amazing. It’s now such a bigger experience than what I went through. I hope to make it to this year’s cup at Hervey Bay and I am seriously planning to be with the touring female Joeys All Star Team in Germany June-July 2021.”

Since working in the Royal Australian Air Force, deployment has meant Rouse-Upjohn has had to miss a few seasons but is now looking forward to getting back into it soon enough.

“Last time I played I was playing in the women’s league at Wagga. I got player of the tournament and a golden boot which was nice.”

Rouse-Upjohn said the Joeys event could be a stepping stone towards Australian representation with the Matildas and she urged aspiring women football players to not miss the opportunity of playing in the tournament.

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The Joeys Mini World Cup is a football tournament, largely for juniors aged from 9 to 17 years old, which attracts teams from around Queensland, northern New South Wales and overseas.

It awards annual scholarships for the top players to attend coaching clinics in Germany.

It’s the third time the event is being held on the Fraser Coast and will take place at the Fraser Coast Sports and Recreation Precinct from 27 September to 2 October 2020.

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