Before heading off to the 2019 Kanga Cup, the Mudgee under 12s representative squad were not necessarily in it to win it, but come the end of the five day tournament, everyone was left stunned.
The team showed what passion, dedication and a little bit of luck can do as they went on to knock out Sydney, Canberra and WA teams to get all the way to the grand final.
Exceeding all expectations, the squad also won their group and in the end recorded eight games, seven wins, one loss, 28 scores and conceded ten all with ten different goal scorers and no regular goalkeeper.
"We were honestly expecting to be beaten in every game, especially as we did not have a recognised goalkeeper and they all had to take it in turns to go in goal, a position that they repeatedly told me that they dislike," Ed George, co-coach alongside Dave Riley, said.
Progressing into the semi-final, Mudgee went in to beat Gungahlin United 4-1 which led to the grand final match against Easts FC where the locals fell 3-1.
"I am so proud of the kids and what they achieved. I am not sure it has actually sunk in with them just how well they did. To make it to the final of a national competition like the Kanga Cup is a fantastic achievement and one they will struggle to top," George said.
"We wanted this whole thing to be an experience the kids would be proud of, and would hopefully remember forever, and I certainly think that it met those objectives."
When posed with the question why did the team consisting of Harry Riley, Hugo George, Ronan Croft, Chloe Mcgilvary, Rachael Channon, Flynn Mclean, Archie Clulow, Toby Roberts, James Nicolson, Tyler Cheney, Charlie Geddes, William Buckley, Oli Evans, do so well, George said it had a lot to do with support and sheer love for the sport.
"I think that their team spirit really shone through, they always played as a team and played for each other," he said.
"They just went out there to enjoy themselves and that meant they were relaxed and didn't put any pressure on themselves.
For them it was a week away with their mates doing what they love to do, playing football.Under 12s representative coach, Ed George
With the players eager to make a return, it is likely the team will endure the five hour trek to Canberra in the near future to do one better and claim the grand final title.
"We have been asked that [if returning] by the kids so often in the last week, and even less than ten minutes after the final whistle," George said.
"I am sure we will go again, it may not be next year as there is so much work that goes into getting a team there. But, when you have a week like we did, it makes all the effort worth it.
"I am so grateful to our sponsors, Half Barrel Honey, Family First Credit Union and the CWA for their financial support, and I thank all the parents for their help and efforts and for making it such a fun week on and off the pitch."