© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2019

Schoolgirl Darsha Keogan is kicking goals and making history

James Regan
Darsha Keogan
Darsha Keogan of Cobham Intermediate at the AIMS games in Tauranga. Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media

Christchurch schoolgirl Darsha Keogan is making history one goal at a time.


Darsha Keogan is an influential player for the team in more ways than one. She’s the first girl to play in the boy’s grade at the tournament, and she was by no means out of her depth.

"I really love football and especially playing with the boys because they play differently from the girls," Darsha said.

 "With the boys we play out wide and with the girls we play through the middle. There is no wrong or right but I think it’s better to play wide."

The AIMS games presented Darsha with some challenges, which she welcomed with open arms. 

"It’s (AIMS) so much fun, all the Cobham students are all so supportive of each other and it’s great."

Darsha also competed in the Cross Country event, and plays Futsal back home in Christchurch

Darsha Keogan
Darsha Keogan loves the challenges that come with playing football with boys. Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media

Her coach, Carly Lawton, said she wanted Darsha at last year's tournament but couldn't get a dispensation.

From the last kick of the 2016 games, Lawton started applying for Darsha to be able to play this year.

"She was year seven last year. I tried to get her to play then and it was just a straight no (from AIMS) because it had never happened before," Lawton said.

The effort to get Darsha into the boys’ team went right to the top, with Canterbury and New Zealand Football backing the move.

"We said if we want our best team on the field, then this girl is one of them."

Darsha’s influence during the games was certainly worth the effort, as the team won all but one of their pool games, including an 8-0 win over Levin.

"She’s been playing so hard, she’s played every game for 12 games in five days," Lawton said.

She hoped that more talented girls, like Darsha, would be able to play in the boys' grade when the circumstances were right.

Cobham placed 15th in the AIMS games, finishing with a 2-0 win over Heaton Intermediate.