A rising star on a mission to take her game to the next level.
Charli Grant has her sights set on representing Australia when it co-hosts the Women’s World Cup in 2023 — and the 19-year-old is on the right path.
The Adelaide United defender is already a part of the Future Matildas program, training with some of the best players and coaches in the country.
“I really do believe it will prepare me as best as I can to play for them and hopefully that opportunity comes soon,” she said.
Her W-League coach is among those backing her to make it.
“She’s got the ability, but more importantly she’s got the attitude and the mentality that you need to be successful in an elite sporting environment,” Adelaide United boss Adrian Stenta said.
“She sets herself some pretty lofty goals but I see the incredible amount of work that she puts into it behind the scenes in order to achieve those goals.”
Grant’s soccer journey began at Emmaus Catholic Primary School when she was just six years old.
From there, she made herself at home at the Cumberland United Women’s Football Club, where her form and potential propelled her to state level before being snapped up by the city’s W-League side, Adelaide United.
‘Huge moment for women’s sport’
The dashing defender has solidified her position in defence this season, and will get her chance on the big stage when the Reds host Western Sydney Wanderers at Hindmarsh Stadium on Sunday.
The women’s team hasn’t played there since 2018, and the club is well on its way to matching, if not bettering, the league’s attendance record of just over 7,000 fans.
Grant said she’s never played in front of more than 1,000 fans before, and with more than 7,000 fans expected, she’s set to experience an incredible atmosphere.
“Being a place where all the men play regularly and for us to now be given that opportunity, and hopefully we get a good crowd, will show that women’s sport is taken seriously here in South Australia.
“To play at the home of South Australia football it would be an incredible experience and we’re really grateful to be given that opportunity.”
Her coach is among those hoping the clash will also showcase why Adelaide should be considered as a host city for the Women’s World Cup, to be held in Australia and New-Zealand.
“It’s a perfect venue for it, I think it’ll be well supported because we have a fantastic soccer community here in our state,” Stenta said.
“It’s a world class event that I think will benefit the state as well.”
World Cup dream within reach
Australia is highly fancied to be among the top teams at the tournament, boasting some of the best female players on the planet, including Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord.
Grant dreams of playing her way into the Matildas squad when the world’s best female players converge on the country in 2023.
“My goal is to keep improving as a player every day and hopefully that opportunity to play for the Matildas comes soon,” she said.
For now, the teenager is focused on helping the Reds reach the W-League finals, with this Sunday’s game a must-win for Adelaide.
“The Wanderers are [always] a very tough game, they’re in really good form,” Grant said.
“We just need to focus on what’s in our control and that’s winning the game this Sunday and hopefully the results of the other games go our way and we make finals for the first time.”