Kyra Cooney-Cross is only 15-years-old but her dream of playing for the Matildas could soon become a reality.
Cooney-Cross received her first professional call-up with Melbourne Victory and is determined to make it count after a stellar NPLW season with the National Training Centre (NTC), netting 15 goals in 24 games.
The new recruit was snapped up by coach Jeff Hopkins and has so far played two full games in their 2-1 win against Canberra United in Round 1 and then the 1-0 loss in the derby last Friday.
The teenager is a striker, however can also play on the wing and as a playmaker if needed. She also took some set-pieces for Victory in the opening two rounds.
Despite being early days, she aspires to play for her country at senior level after getting a taste of training with Alen Stajcic's side earlier this year.
Australian veteran and prolific striker Lisa De Vanna, who also came up against Cooney-Cross in NPLW when she was with South Melbourne, immediately took the teenager under her wing.
De Vanna said earlier in the year Cooney-Cross made her opponents “look stupid”.
“When I first met Lisa I was actually really scared, but it’s a good thing because she pushes you and helps you to become a good person and good player,” Cooney-Cross told FourFourTwo.
“She’s helped me a lot especially when I went to Matildas camp with her.
“I didn’t think I would get the opportunity with the Matildas, I just thought I was going to train with the U-20s but it was bigger.
“Lisa told me ‘check your emails in a couple of days’, I then checked my email and it was an invitation to go and train with the seniors and I was really happy.
“I trained with them until just before their Brazil games. I didn’t expect that all, but it was a great experience.
“I haven’t really thought about much about my goals outside of football, I’m only 15, but one day I want to play for the Matildas and I dream of playing in the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) in America.”
Cooney-Cross has a truckload of experience with the Mini Matildas and recently returned from Thailand competing in the AFC U-16 Championship.
The Mini Matildas were thrashed in their first two games, but beat Bangladesh 3-2 in the final game as Cooney-Cross bagged a goal.
She also turned heads in the Championship Qualifiers where she netted six goals – four of them coming in Australia’s 28-0 win over Palestine.
The Victory No.10 is maturing, but still feels nervous at times stepping into the spotlight and doing media.
However with all the hype around her being the next big thing, she conceded sometimes it is too much.
“I do find it very overwhelming with the expectations, because I’m still just a teenager,” she admitted.
“There is pressure… yeah, I find it difficult especially sometimes at training.”
Cooney-Cross was born in February 2002 in Brisbane and played for Ballarat Eureka Strikers and Heidelberg United when she moved to Victoria.
She said her father, Jai, got her into playing the game at a young age as he played for the Sunshine Coast Fire in Queensland when she was a child.
She also has three younger sisters, one who plays football and the other two are more into dancing.
And Cooney-Cross originally combined tennis and football as a child, but opted for the round ball in her early teens.
“Dad got me into football. Since I started walking I was pretty much kicking the ball,” Cooney-Cross said.
“I used to go watch him play for the Fire, they used to play against some A-League teams. In Year 7 and 8 I stopped tennis because I wanted to focus more on football.
“I was in Alice Springs for three years, I trained and played with boys. I don’t really remember it, but it was beneficial as boys are stronger and faster with the ball.”
She currently lives in Torquay and attends Surf Coast Secondary College, completing Year 10.
It takes her almost two hours to get to Victory’s primary training ground in Keysborough and just over an hour to the club’s secondary facility in Maribyrnong.
And with the help of carpooling with teammates Laura Alleway and Laura Spiranovic, who both live in regional Victoria, the youngster is up for the challenge.
“Laura lives in Torquay near me, she did last year too when I trained with Melbourne City and Spira also lives in Geelong and gets me to training,” she said.
“We train four times a week and then there’s game day, I’ve missed out a lot on school after coming back from the tournament in Thailand.
“Jeff has been really good, he gave me two days off to rest my body and to catch up on school.
“The girls are really helpful and made me feel really comfortable really quickly. The first two games were good and I’m actually really happy with how I’m going and how the girls help me both on and off the field.”