Annabel Martin had the chance to play cricket this summer, but opted to continue playing for Melbourne Victory's W-League side after her first professional season as a footballer.
Martin, who turned 18 last month won the Victory medal last season after playing all 12 games in a wooden spoon season.
The short defender can play as a left-back, right-back or as centre-defensive midfielder if needed. She graduated through the National Training Centre (NTC) academy where she had current Melbourne City championship coach Joe Montemurro as her mentor.
In September 2014, Martin was unable to experience training with the Victory, however did enough to get a call from former coach Dave Edmondson before the beginning of last season.
Martin was always an athlete since childhood, she grew up in Mildura, country Victoria with three brothers and her father Geoff, played six games for AFL side Richmond in 1981 and 1983.
After playing AFL as child, her father suggested a switch to football would mean a more realistic chance of having a successful career as a female.
“I grew up in the backyard playing footy, after two years of that dad suggested to move to something where I could have a career in as a girl, so I moved to soccer,” Martin told FourFourTwo.
“Growing up I played tennis, basketball, netball… anything you can think of, I came from a sporty family. I grew up with three older brothers so as soon as I could hold a bat they were putting me down the end and bowling for my head.
“I still get down to Richmond games when I can, grew up playing and watching it, so I’m still tied to it and dad’s a member, so I can get into the players rooms get down there and meet all the guys.”
Martin originally played cricket as a junior, she has represented Victoria at state level and made the Cricket Australia junior development squad.
Martin had the opportunity to play for Big Bash League side Melbourne Renegades this season, but decided to choose football as both sports are played at the same time.
She saw the positives out of her predicament also stating she idolised Ellyse Perry who was best remembered for playing both football and cricket.
“I sat down with Jeff (Victory coach Jeff Hopkins) and the Renegades coaches but couldn’t quite work it out,” she said.
“Growing up, it was always positive to see that you could play both sports as long as you can, so I always admired the way she went about it and how she just loved playing both sports.”
Martin currently holds seven Young Matildas caps and recently returned from Nanjing, but did not take part in the 2017 Asian Cup Qualifiers.
She spends the offseason playing for WNPL side Geelong Galaxy with Victory teammates Melissa Taranto and Adriana Taranto and almost won the Championship last season losing the grand final 2-1 to Calder United.
One of her closest mentors is Victory teammate striker Natasha Dowie who had experience playing for England and Liverpool.
The youngster also spoke of Matilda Steph Catley who she finds inspiring and Young Matilda teammate Ellie Carpenter who partook in the Olympics for the senior team.
“It’s funny about Ellie because she’s very mature and a great player, but when you’re around her she doesn’t act like she’s better than you or anything like that,” Martin said.
“She’s easy to get along with, always up for a joke and out on the pitch she’s always good to play with.
“Steph is someone I tried to model my game off since I was a junior, she’s a fullback and a great one. She’s gone through the NTC system similar to what I did, a great person on and off the pitch, I look up to her.
“You always think ‘how cool is this? I’m just travelling playing the sport I love’, you always think about that, but again you’re there to qualify for something and you have to focus on the games I guess.”
Martin is still yet to finish high school, entering year 12 next year in the western suburbs of Melbourne.
While studying journalism in university was an option but stated a full-time job playing football was the dream.
“Playing for the Matildas is definitely the ultimate goal I guess you would say, they’re really carving away for women’s sport at the moment,” Martin said.
“They’re doing so well qualifying for the Olympics and World Cups, they’re going to be a really strong team considering how young they are.
“I’d like to go play out there in the US, some great players have played out there then come to the W-League and I think it’ll be really cool to play there during the offseason then come home.”
Victory is set to play in the Melbourne derby against City before the A-League City V Newcastle Jets fixture today.