If Sam Kerr reneges on the W-League, Foord's set to become the competition's biggest star this season. But you wouldn't know it to speak to her.

It's not that the 24-year-old is underprepared, in fact, she's over qualified. She was qualified by the time she was 16-years-old, back in 2011, when she outshone the greatest players in the world - including her mercurial teammate and bestfriend - to win the Best Young Player at the FIFA World Cup.

It was a record-breaking feat for Australian football and a momentous achievement for a restless teenager, who only a couple of years prior, had chosen football because there were no other sporting teams she could join.

"Football wasn’t the one I wanted to do," she says nonchalantly.

"I just wanted to do every single sport. Football was what I played at school, in the playground with the boys, and my sister came home and said I was pretty good.

"She said I should join the local team with the boys from my school and that’s the only reason I got into it. It was actually the last sport I was into."

Now a fiery winger, Foord plays with the same reckless abandon she did at the beginning of her career, a quality that stands her alone among a remarkable few in world football. Matildas legend Kate Gill summed Foord's game up best: "She's dangerous, and she runs at players."

But that reckless abandon isn't just cockiness, and it definitely isn't ignorance. There's a side to Foord that's never overawed by any occassion.

When, as a 16-year-old, she was crowned the greatest young player in the world, she didn't even attend the ceremony. She didn't want to.

She'd just dominated the World Cup, led Australia to the quarter-finals as one of the youngest at the tournament and football was the furthest thing from her mind.

"I was like ‘No way I’m going back!'," she laughs.

"We'd been knocked out of the World Cup and I got told over Facebook that I’d won that award.

"FIFA said they would fly me back to…um, wherever that final was, I can’t remember now. I was on holiday in Croatia having the time of my life.

"I didn’t know how big of a deal it was. I thought it was cool but it didn’t really sink in until years later and I look back and I think ‘Wow, that really was a big achievement.’"

There's something uniquely Australian about Foord's grounding at that age. There were young girls all over the world who would have dreamed of that level of success, but not Foord.

Still, to this day, she doesn't watch the game she can boast to be one of the greatest at in the world.

The young Foord was a natural sporting prodigy - an enigma - from a family that wasn't particularly sporting and a town, the small Illawarra seaside of Shellharbour, that wasn't particularly into football.

"My family weren't really sporty at all," she recalls. "I guess mum was a little sporty growing up, but it’s always just been me. I was always active.

“I never watched football growing up. It was never in my family, it's only recently I’ve started watching games at all.

"I didn’t have a role model in football either, I just played it because I enjoyed it. Today, I won’t go out of my way to watch football. It’s never been a thing that I love, I don’t love watching it, but I do love playing it."

Talent, then success came naturally to Foord. Experience...that was a little harder to come by.

It's easy to forget until you hear the youthful exuberance in her voice that Foord's still only 24. In addition to her instant success on the world stage (now the veteran of three World Cups) she's won two W-League Premierships, two Championships, the Tournament of Nations and Asian Footballer of the Year.

She's now in her fouth NWSL campaign, although injury has derailed her season at league powerhouses Portland Thorns. A lisfranc ligament rupture she describes as "heartbreaking" forced her exclusion from the 2018 W-League Grand Final.

At 22, she was wondering whether she would ever play again. Two years later, before she's even hit her mid-20s, she has a renewed enjoyment for the game.

By last year, that juvenile confidence had faded and years of constant separation from her family, jet-setting from Perth to Sydney to New Jersey to Sendai, were beginning to take their toll.

She believes the injury came "at the perfect time". Fresh from an end-of-season sojourn to a Matildas camp Down Under, she's biting to get back on the park for Portland Thorns' season finale against Washington Spirit.

It's renewed her passion for success. She now admits that if she won another FIFA award, she'd attend the ceremony.

"I would," she muses bashfully. "I know now that it's the type of thing that doesn’t just come around and everyone doesn’t get to experience it. I wouldn’t miss it now if it did occur."

But no matter how much she recaptures her white line fever, she still doesn't reckon the beautiful game holds a candle to her first love, rugby league.


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If you're tossing up between AFLW, WBBL, NRLW or W-League, you better choose fast. Adelaide coach Ivan Karlovic believes your time is running out.

“In ways I find football boring," she says.

"I don’t know the players or have much interest in watching…I don’t know, I find it more fun watching people I care about do well.

"I know them on a personal level, so I see their personality on the field. That’s more enjoyable for me, but I grew up watching NRL, so I’ll watch NRL over soccer," she says, subconsciously switching back to the sport's traditional Australian title without so much as a flinch.

"The NRL grand final is a lot bigger than an average soccer match to me," she continues. "To be fair, I haven’t watched any games this season, but I’m here in Australia so I’m going to watch it.

"If I'm going to watch a usual football game, it has to be a semi-final or I'll watch the leagues I’m in sometimes because I like seeing my friends.

"But something like the English Premier League? Doesn’t interest me at all."

Now, as Foord enters her 12th W-League season, she's a reluctant veteran of a competition that began at the beginning of her career but, thanks to trailblazers like herself, is set to continue expanding exponentially after she's gone.

Although she'd never admit it, the cocky young girl from Shellharbour is beginning to become a seasoned campaigner. She's seen the W-League and Australian women's football evolve from amateur indignity to one of Australia's favourite sports.

Meanwhile, she's experienced the best the women's game has to offer in the USA. It's given her a taste of what's to come.

“W-league clubs can learn a lot from the NWSL," she says.

"The professionalism in the NWSL is the highest it can be right now in women’s football. We get 20,000-plus fans to every game and every club has that community that supports it, so the club always wants to give their best to showcase what we can do in front of those fans.

"That’s why Australians keep coming back, the level of care for their players is a massive step above other clubs.

"We’re trying to close the gap in the W-League and we’re getting there in small steps, but we still have a long way to go."