Olivia De La Harpe has dreamed of playing for the Matildas, so she couldn’t believe it when she was named in the Junior Matildas squad.
“I was very shocked and surprised and I’m still very young,” the 14-year-old from Faulconbridge said.
“I’m really nervous and excited. I’ve always wanted to play for my country in any sport. It’s come really early.”
The 23-player squad flew to Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, on Monday for the 2019 AFC (Asian Football Confederation) U16 Women’s Championship Qualifiers.
Australia will compete in group D, against Palestine, Indonesia, the Kyrgyz Republic and Chinese Taipei. Finishing first in the group would guarantee the team a place at the 2019 AFC U16 Women’s Championship in Thailand.
The championship will double as the qualification competition for the 2020 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup.
“We’ve selected a balanced team with plenty of skill and creativity and we’re really looking to our first game [against Palestine] on September 17. Some of the players are still only 13 years old so the potential they have is enormous,” said head coach Rae Dower.
Olivia plays right back and underwent a rigorous selection process over several months to make the squad. “We’ve bonded quite well and quickly,” she said of the squad’s dynamics.
Olivia attends Westfield Sports High School and trains before and after school. She also trains in Bella Vista with her club, FNSW (Football NSW) Institute.