Mareeba Bulls goalkeeper Farrah Boustead is a hidden gem of Queensland country football.
The 29-year-old shot-stopper is a local legend of the game in Far North Queensland, known for her fearlessness, her cat-like reflexes and her resistance to wearing goalkeeper gloves.
“Farrah is well known up here not just because of her talent but because for a long time she wouldn’t wear gloves,” said Far North & Gulf Zone Manager Alex Srhoj.
“I coached her for a season at Mareeba and tried to get her to wear them, but she wouldn’t have a bar of it.”
In fact, Boustead only bought her first pair of gloves this year – not for protection but to keep warm during Mareeba’s cold winter nights.
Mareeba, a rural town on the Atherton Tablelands, is famous for its production of tropical fruit, coffee and passionate sports people.
The football club, which was established by Italian immigrants in the 1950s, is one of the town’s proudest institutions.
The Bulls’ home ground Borzi Park boasts two covered grandstands which rival many of the big city clubs down south.
Boustead, who grew up in Innisfail, began playing for Mareeba in 2018 and quickly fell in love with the club.
For years, she has made the long, winding drive up the Kuranda Range from Cairns to train and play with her Tablelands teammates.
“I lived in Cairns for the past three or four years and only just moved up to Mareeba in the past couple of months,” said Boustead.
“I work for BlueScope Steel in the centre of Cairns, so I’m still commuting every day. I don’t make it easy on myself, but I don’t mind the drive.”
Since 2016, powerhouse Cairns clubs Edge Hill and Leichhardt have claimed 10 out of 11 Premierships and Championships.
Through it all, Boustead has stuck true to her country roots.
“Farrah is easily the best female keeper in the Far North and she could walk into any side she wanted,” said Srhoj.
“But there is a saying in the Far North that once you join Mareeba, you never leave – and Farrah is a great example of that.”
A talented all-round sportsperson, Boustead has also excelled in cricket, hitting the first-ever T20 century in the Far North Ladies Competition for Mareeba in 2018.
But her first love is football and tomorrow night Boustead will line up for Mareeba as they take on JCU Strikers in the first Semi Final of the FNQ Women’s Premier League.
Mareeba, who this year finished third behind Edge Hill and Leichhardt, have not won a Championship in two decades, but this is team chasing that special Grand Final feeling.
“A couple of years ago, we qualified for a Grand Final and a lot of the girls in my team had never even been in a Finals Series before,” said Boustead.
“The whole club got behind us and everyone was so happy. It was such a good feeling – I’d never been part of anything like that.
“We ended up losing the Grand Final, but it was probably one of my best moments in football.”
It will be a huge Friday night at Borzi Park as the Mareeba Men’s second and third division sides are in action after the Women’s Premier and Reserve Grade Semi Finals.
While Mareeba’s Premier Women’s team will enter the Finals Series with the home ground advantage, Boustead said her teammates will take nothing for granted.
“We don’t go in expecting anything,” she said, “but we will give it a crack and make the best of it.”
Football For All, For Life shines a light on the inspiring characters that make up the FQ community.