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  • Writer's pictureSha Nen

'Anna Black - This Girl Can Play': The perfect football hero for 2023

On the 25th of June 2020, Australia and New Zealand won the bid to host the Women's World Cup to the delight and excitement of fans of both countries.

Australia has been preparing for the tournament on the pitch with training camps and plenty of friendly fixtures. But off the pitch, fans can also get ready for the event with Texi Smith's fourth book 'Anna Black: This girl can play', the perfect warm-up to the upcoming 2023 Women's World Cup.

Matildas superstar Sam Kerr holding up a copy of Anna Black. (Texi Smith)

The book follows Texi's trilogy of books in the 'Jarrod Black' series. This time it follows the football journey of Jarrod's younger sister Anna Black. Anna works her way up through the world of women's football in Australia, from the W-League to the world stage.

"I hope that the World Cup is given the coverage it deserves in Australia and brings a new and enthusiastic wave of support and love for the women's game and football in general," Smith told Front Page Football recently.

"I don't think we're talking enough about the World Cup at this moment; I know Australians frustratingly tend to get on board late with big events.

"If the legacy of the World Cup is there are more women playing football, the number and standard of coaches continues to evolve, and more people want more football, then that is a good result."

Author Texi Smith signing a copy of his novel. (Texi Smith)

Anna Black is an engaging story that will instantly get you hooked, with Texi excitingly presenting the plot. With short and intense chapters that pack a punch, those with little time to spare will welcome it and find it suitable. This football book is easy to pick up and read at any time, whether you have a spare five minutes or a spare hour or two. It is also incredibly clever and interactive. It's filled with QR codes to scan on your phone or device whilst reading the story, helping you fully immerse in the world of Anna Black.

Anna Black is a feel-good story of determination and courage. Protagonist Anna Black, the little sister of fictional Socceroos hero Jarrod Black, starts her football journey living in the shadow of her successful older brother. However, throughout the book, we follow Anna as she forges her path in the very different world of women's football. She overcomes several challenges both on the pitch and in her heart and soul, tackling issues of football, fame, romance, and issues within women's football.

Texi Smith has tackled these issues with delicacy, poise, and extreme respect, providing great insight and a great story that many will find hard to put down. If you're looking for a novel to get you excited for the Women's World Cup in 2023, the story of Anna Black rising through the ranks of football is a must-read.

"Putting myself in the shoes of a female is not something I can do," Smith said.

"Anna Black may come across as heartless and lacking in sensitivity at times, but I was trying to portray her as someone determined to change the course of her life and who was breaking free from a stereotypical Sydney lifestyle to achieve her goal.

"I believe that Anna's character will resonate with female readers and be inspirational to young women, especially those involved in football who are looking to the future."

Texi Smith speaking about Anna Black at a book event. (Texi Smith)

Reading this book feels like you are going on a journey alongside Anna Black. Smith has crafted a story and a world that will transport you into the shoes of Anna as she shakes off the shackles of being seen as just the sister of Jarrod Black. Thus, it proves the title that 'this girl can play' during her whirlwind journey through football, culminating in national team triumphs, pressures, and beyond.

It's hard to divulge too much of this book without fear of spoiling the incredible mile-a-minute story. If you're a football fan, or just a fan of a captivatingly good story, this book, full of football, heart, and a few surprises and twists, will be ideal for you.

Those attending Matildas games in active support or viewing the team's social media pages would notice a figure cheering and wearing a jersey with 'Anna Black 23' on the back. That is Texi Smith, one of Australia's most passionate and dedicated football fans.

Smith wearing protagonist Anna Black's jersey. (Texi Smith)

Texi is a blogger and an author, having written three books before his most recent. But 'Anna Black: This girl can play' is the author's first step into women's football. It is an area he has not stumbled upon but has firmly planted his foot into and shown Australia just how good football fiction can be.

"My daughter plays [in the] NPL and is completely immersed in football. I am therefore around women's football a great deal, and it was a logical move to draw from that exposure," Smith said.

"There had never been a female football fiction story that was not aimed at kids, at least [to] my knowledge, and it seemed like a good fit.

"The book was conceived and largely completed [before] Australia and New Zealand being announced as hosts for 2023, so there was no real-life time frame to the story.

"It was adapted slightly to fit in with the World Cup in 2023 but remains purely fictional."

To read writer Sha Nen's book review on former Socceroo Andy Bernal's autobiography 'Riding Shotgun', click here.


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