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Goal-scoring gun eyeing next step

Kelli Brown, centre, playing against Uruguay at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup. Photo Credit: FIFA via Getty Images

Kelli Brown has scored goals for fun at national age-group level and has her sights set on higher honours.

The New Zealander won the Golden Boot at the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship in Samoa in 2017 with 14 goals and followed that up with 21 goals at the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship in the Cook Islands two years later.

She also scored twice at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay in 2018 as New Zealand claimed a historic bronze medal.

The 19-year-old is yet to make her senior international debut, but it may only be a matter of time.

“That’s definitely on the list,” she said.

“We’ve got the [FIFA Women’s] World Cup here in New Zealand in 2023 so that’s pretty much where I’m aiming for, to get on the field for that, which will be ideal. But definitely the next step will be the Football Ferns.”

Representing her country at youth level meant she achieved a goal she had been working towards for a long time.

“It’s a pretty humbling experience. Ever since I was young, I told my dad when I was 5 years old or something that when I grow up, I’m going to play for New Zealand and to be able to do that when I did was such an awesome feeling and being able to pull on that fern and know that I worked hard and had done it for everyone that’s pushed me back home as well, is an awesome feeling.”

Kelli Brown, right, at the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship. Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

It’s been two years since that dream run at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in South America and Brown said it was one of the highlights of her burgeoning career.

“It was awesome. Nobody expected little old New Zealand to do such cool things but I’m so proud of the girls and so proud of everyone that was a part of that.

“Looking back on it, it was such an awesome thing to be a part of.”

On the domestic front, the prolific striker is playing for WaiBOP in this summer’s ISPS Handa Women’s Premiership in New Zealand.

It marks a return to her hometown team after she played for the Northern Lights last season.

Brown, who is originally from the Waikato region, studies sport and exercise science at the Auckland University of Technology, which ties in nicely with football.

“I enjoy it because it’s sport-related and I can relate to stuff that we do on the field as well,” she said.

WaiBOP have a win, a draw and two losses from their opening four games this season and Brown has scored two goals.

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