The incredible lengths two girls go to for love of the game
TWO Mackay footballers have gone the distance to earn the chance to represent the region.
Bowen's Willow Gaffeny and Riley Borellini from Proserpine are no strangers to long car rides. Both young players travel 100km up to three times a week for the sport they love.
Both girls will drive a little farther than usual when they travel to Cairns tomorrow to represent Mackay in the FQ Community Cup.
Riley began her soccer journey with the Proserpine Taipans but moved to Mackay Lions to further her growth.
"I'm the only girl in Lions, but it's been pretty good," she said.
Netflix was her best friend on the hour-and-a-half commute she made four times each week.
"We train for Lions on Wednesday and play on Saturday. With the FQ Cup we trained on Friday and Sunday," Riley said.
Soccer success runs in the Borellini family. Riley's elder sisters Nichola, 24, and Darcey, 20, each have their fair share of trophies in their cabinets.
"Nichola made North Queensland side for state titles a few times and Darcy made the Country team for the Queensland titles," the youngest sister boasted.
Not short of her own achievements, Riley was selected in the Gold Coast All Starts team after a stellar performance in the inaugural FQ Cup last year.
She was given the opportunity to play against the Gold Coast FC women's squad.
With only two years of club football under her belt, Willow has wowed Mackay selectors.
"I played a bit of school sport and made the North Queensland side," she said.
Her parents quickly enlisted her into a football club after her school success.
"Mum got me into the Bowen Blast team. But this year they weren't able to put together a side," Willow said.
The 13 year old plays for Whitsunday United FC which takes an hour off previous training travel time.
Riley and Willow's passion is no small commitment and the distance can take its toll.
"Not really having time to catch up with friends on the weekends and coming home late (is a challenge). But that's what you have to do," Riley said.
"Fitting in school work along with all my sport can be troubling," Willow added.
Despite the time constraints, both agree the reward is well worth the travel.
"I love the sport and I don't think I'll ever quit," Riley said.
"There is not a day that you will find me without a soccer ball," Willow said.