International Youth Day: A nod to our young guns

International Youth Day: A nod to our young guns

To celebrate International Youth Day 2021, we look at some of the Matildas’ young stars, who are already finding their place in the squad. 

Youngsters played a vital role in the Matildas achieving their best-ever finish at the Olympic Games.

Over our six matches at Tokyo 2020, teenagers made one start and 12 appearances off the bench, totalling 437 minutes of playing time and averaging just over 30 minutes of playing time in each game. 

Mary Fowler’s stunning goal against Great Britain was one to remember, her goal made Fowler the Matildas youngest ever goalscorer at the Olympic Games. 

Mary Fowler,  18

Fowler, the youngest of our squad, impressed fans throughout the Olympic Games. Her ability to make plays on and off the ball as well as her composed ball control made her an exciting player to watch. 

The young forward has featured in all of the Matildas international friendlies this year, scoring her first international goal against Denmark prior to Tokyo 2020.

She made her debut for the Matildas in 2018, against Brazil in the Tournament of Nations. Coaches saw a promising young talent and she was rewarded with a spot on the FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup squad, however, she saw no playing time.

The time in camp saw her gain confidence in her abilities and learn from senior players around her. She quickly signed her first professional contract with Adelaide United, impressing so much in the W-League she was then signed by Montpellier HSC.

Her time at Montpellier HSC has seen her flourish as a player, scoring five goals in her 22 appearances. 

Fowler’s time at the Olympic Games was one to remember, named in the starting XI against the USA in the group stage and making appearances off the bench in all other games.

Her goal against Great Britain in the 103rd minute was a dream come true for the forward, who as a young girl always dreamed of becoming an Olympian. 

The future is bright for Fowler with fans eager to see how brightly this young star can shine.

Charlotte ‘Charli’ Grant, 19

Charli Grant was the only young player not to make an appearance at the Olympic Games, the defender is yet to make her debut for the senior side but has a wealth of experience representing Australia at a youth level. 

Her debut season, at hometown club, Adelaide United in the W-League saw her make 11 appearances and named the 2018/19 W-League Rising Star of the squad.

Grant would go on to represent Australia at the 2019 AFC U19 Women’s Championship, her debut for the Young Matildas came against Mongolia where she played the full 90 minutes.

Charli spent two seasons training with the Future Matildas program in Sydney, led by retired Matilda, Leah Blayney. The program gives young players an environment to develop the next generation of footballers. 

Grant’s breakout season in the 2020/21 W-League saw her attract interest from overseas clubs, eventually signing with Swedish side FC Rosengård.

Her move to FC Rosengård will allow Grant to play with and against some of the best players in the world and gain invaluable experience for the rest of her career. 

Debuting in the W-League as a 15-year-old for Melbourne Victory, Cooney-Cross has become one of the best homegrown talents on display in the W-League.

Kyra has been surrounded by football from a young age, with her dad, Jai, playing football at the semi-professional level in Queensland with the Sunshine Coast Fire. 

She quickly found a love of football and playing with senior boys and girls challenged the young footballer to succeed.

Her standout W-League season came in 2021/21, where she won the W-League Championship with Melbourne Victory and scored the grand final-winning goal. She was also voted by her peers into the Team of the Season and awarded the Young Player of the Year award.

Tony Gustavsson was impressed in her versatility on the ball and creative flair, rewarding her stunning season in the W-League with a call-up to friendlies against Denmark and Sweden. 

Cooney-Cross’ debut would come against Denmark. Coming off the bench at half-time and making an immediate impact, she impressed Gustavsson and his coaching staff, so much so she made her starting debut against Sweden and played the full 90 minutes in the 0-0 draw.

Her time at the Olympic Games saw her make six appearances off the bench, appearing in every single fixture and gaining experience at the highest level.

Courtney Nevin has always had a love of football, which was encouraged by coaches and her parents from a young age. So much so she asked her father to build a practice goal at home to help improve her skill level.

She signed with hometown club, Western Sydney Wanderers, making the transition from train-on player to a utilised member of Dan Barrett’s squad, after her 2018 season in the NPLW in which she scored 11 goals in her 25 appearances.

Her first season in the W-League, as a left-back, saw her make nine appearances for the red and black and earn high praise from her teammates.

Nevin is no stranger to representing the green and gold, having played at a Junior, Young, and now Senior Matildas level.

Her debut for the senior team came against Denmark, where she came on as a substitute in the 3-2 defeat.

Nevin made one appearance off the bench in the Olympic Games, in the bronze medal match against the USA. 

Her performance showed promising signs of what’s to come for the defender.

This content was originally published here.

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