Hand picked by Tim Cahill and a regular in the boys squad of Box Hill, Sofia Sakali was integral in giving Australia the title in the Disney International Cup.
At just 12 years old, Sofia Sakali is a football pocket-rocket. Having such advanced skill that the female squads of her age group can’t keep up, she’s been playing with the boys squads for years.
A regular at South Melbourne and now Box Hill, Sofia has been playing well beyond her years, and has been integral in making Australia shine internationally.
In late July, Sofia was one of 10 hand picked girls to represent Australia in a Foxtel All-Stars Koala Kickers team at the Disney International Cup.
The cup brought national teams of youngsters from the football mad countries of Mexico, Honduras and Puerto Rico, amongst others.
After the way the World Cup turned out, no one expected the Australian teams to amount to much.
The Australian women’s and men’s teams didn’t just make an impact, they got to the finals and won.
Sofia in fact was so integral to the team that she scored eight goals in five games and assisted even more.
She was the youngest player on the female team, and was hand picked by Everton Academy coach Robbie Anderson and Tim Cahill.
Her doting dad and coach, Stefano Sakali, was with her all the way, and says the love of football came to her while travelling in Greece.
“We went to Greece when she was three and six years old, and we went to the matches with Hraklis, and we put her in the Toumba to watch PAOK, which is a bit, not fanatic, but they make a lot of noise,” he tells Neos Kosmos.
“And from then I think she just clicked.”
Sofia was always a keen footballer from a young age when she would see her older brother take up the sport.
“My older son is three years older than her, so we played together in the garden, and she would play with us, concentrating so much on the soccer ball and we started teaching her some tricks and she amazed me,” her father says.
Her biggest achievement to date would have to be representing the country for the Disney International Cup.
Travelling to Florida with her family at the sidelines to cheer her all the way, the 12-year-old played so well that she was promoted to the role of captain in the grand final.
“She scored eight goals in five matches, she scored in every game and she scored from a corner kick, which is very rare for the girls in this age group,” he father says.
“It’s just amazing.”
The final game was with Mexico, where the Kicking Koalas managed to grab a huge 5-1 win, with Sofia scoring the second goal.
In the boys team, fellow Greek Australian Jack Koutrodimos, who plays for Blacktown City, helped the team beat Bermuda 3-1.
At the end of the tournament, Sofia was even scouted by Robbie Anderson, who told the family if she continues like this, she’ll be a shoo-in for an American college scholarship.
Back home now, Sofia is content with playing the NPL season through, even if she still creates a bit of surprise from her male opponents.
“The Box Hill boys respect her, they know she is capable to play with them,” her father says.
“The only thing is when the opposite team sees a girl in the team, they think oh she’ll be very, very easy, and when they start to play with her they are amazed.”
Things are still on the up for Sofia. In September she has been selected to play with her school team at the School Sport Australia Football Championships in Bendigo.
source: Neos Kosmos