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By being one of the early women to play football in New Zealand, Sandra Twiname was a trailblazer in our countries footballing landscape. When we say ‘woman’, perhaps that should be amended to ‘trailblazing girl’ as Sandra was only 11 years of age when she played her debut game for the Eastern Suburbs premier woman’s team.
By playing in our distinctive white shirt, Sandra followed her brothers (Malcolm & Dave) and mother (Marge) who played for Eastern Suburbs.
After impressing Ray Mears (our woman’s then woman’s coach) with her ability to strike a ball with power, Ray was keen to put her into the team. Sandra borrowed a pair of boots for the game which was a five sizes too generous, so resourcefully Sandra stuffed newspaper into the oversized boots to ensure they would fit, and took to the field!
In 1975 Sandra’s footballing journey took a change for the better when our greatest goalkeeper, Praven Jeram, took over coaching our woman’s team. One of the first changes Praven made was to change Sandra’s position from striker to left-back. Sandra commented ‘I was not too pleased’, particularly as she didn’t have a left foot, but Praven saw her potential and skills as ideal for defence and trained Sandra to kick with her left foot. Praven’s repositioning of Sandra proved to be a shrewd move as she won a place in the 1975 New Zealand team (Football Ferns). Sandra sites her positional move to left-back as the key reason which gained her selection into the Football Ferns.
Sandra was a key member of the Lilywhites woman’s team in the mid to 1980s who were literally unbeatable! Under Praven’s guidance, our female Lilywhites lost only six games between 1975 & 1980. Such was the dominance of Eastern Suburbs in that era, that at one stage we had 10 of our starting eleven who were also representing Auckland, while Sandra and Elaine Lee were also part of the New Zealand squad who were victorious in winning the 1975 Asian Cup.
Finally, what cements Sandra’s special place in our club’s rich history is: she was our first ever Football Fern!