Holly selected for Mangrove Jacks

Holly Price. Photo by Keer Moriarty.

Ten year old Holly Price has her sights firmly set on a career in soccer.

She was recently selected to play in First Nations football team, Mangrove Jacks.

The team was formed by Runaway Bay Soccer Club in association with Yugambeh Language Group People of the Gold Coast and played their first game during Naidoc week.

The talented young soccer player was delighted to be playing in the Mangrove Jacks mixed team with fifteen and sixteen year olds against the Sunshine Coast Goannas.

Mangrove Jacks Coach, Rob Tipaldo, said he was surprised with the response to the new team.

“I see great potential.  Ive been honestly surprised by the numbers that we’ve seen and the interest,” he said.

Could she be a future Matilda?

Holly Price was only eight years old when Shannon Bunn realised her potential as a soccer player.

Shannon and his wife, Mel, are close family friends of Holly’s family.

Mel said Holly hadn’t started playing soccer when Shannon recognised her talent.

“Shannon had just starting to do his own Academy here,” said Mel.

“They were just kicking a ball around to burn some energy off and as soon as she started kicking the ball he saw she just had that natural talent.”

Holly trained with Shannon during the off season and did her first club season at Jimboomba with an all girls team.

She now trains with Shannon’s Under 14 boys team every week and plays in an Under 12s mixed team, Under 12 Tigers with the  Beaudesert Soccer Club.  

Holly is playing up two age divisions to be part of the Under 12s team.

She enjoys playing in the mixed team and finds playing with and against the older players more challenging.

Mel and Shannon heard about the Mangrove Jacks initiative  through their contacts and recommended Holly try out for the team.

“It really is designed for Under 15s and 16s players,” said Mel.

“We do have a few in that age group who have also gone down to play for this team.”

“Holly stood out so much because was younger and smaller compared to other players.”

The diminutive girl plays  striker, mid and wing positions, but Mangrove Jacks selectors were doubtful about Holly until they saw her play.

“They said she was a little bit young and only tiny … so we said ‘watch her’ and they did.”

“The coach was just like ‘oh yeah, she’s going to play with us,” said Mel.

Although older, the other players have welcomed Holly into the team.

“I think they were a bit surprised by her ability when she first came along but she has built friendships and they really treat her like a little sister.”

Shannon is now one of the Assistant Coaches with Mangrove Jacks.


Coach Shannon Bunn with Holly Price. Image supplied.

Holly’s mother, Toni Sharp, said Holly always has a ball at her feet, even if she is walking around the house.

Holly’s dream is to one day play soccer for Australia’s women’s soccer, team, the Matildas, like her favourite player, Sam Kerr.

Holly’s next big soccer goal is to play with Mangrove Jacks in the Queensland Murri Carnival (QMC) in September this year at Redcliffe.

All junior divisions (Under 12s to Under 18s) will by vying for a spot in Queensland representatives team to play at the Murri v Koori Event in 2024. 

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About Keer Moriarty 470 Articles
Small town newspaper Editor, journo, social media manager and tea lady.