A Ballarat soccer export has been named among the top players in the country after being picked as a standby player for the Matildas World Cup team.
Kyra Cooney-Cross was included in the 23-player Matilda squad which touched down in Turkey last month in preparation for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.
The 17-year-old lived and trained with the squad throughout training camp and is ready to step in should any of the selected squad be ruled out through injury.
Speaking with The Courier, Cooney-Cross's mother Jessica Cooney said her daughter's selection had come as an amazing surprise.
"We don't get to talk, but she has been messaging a lot," she said.
"She looks great in all the photos and she looks really happy. She's loved getting to know the whole team and everyone had treated her really well."
She just loved playing with a ball-either kicking one or hitting one with a racket. She was active by instinct.Jessica Cooney
Cooney-Cross landed on the radar of selectors after impressing coaches with her play as a member of the Future Matildas Asian Cup side earlier this year.
After appearing on the bench in the side's World Cup warm-up match against the Netherlands, Jessica said her daughter had been learning from the senior players in the team.
"She's been getting close with Samantha Kerr and all the girls. She already had a close relationship with Laura Alleway. They've all been very good at taking her under their wing," she said.
The teen sensation spent three years in Ballarat between 2013-2016, playing under the tutelage of Ballarat City coach Tessa Curtain.
Having spent the last two seasons with Melbourne Victory in the W-League, Jessica said her daughter was a "born athlete."
"I remember signing her up to the Soccer Squirts program at the age of about four. From a young age we knew she was very natural at it," she said.
"She's always had really good hand-eye and foot-eye coordination. She just loved playing with a ball, either kicking one or hitting one with a racket. She was active by instinct."
Cooney-Cross will leave the Matildas squad in the coming days to return home before its first World Cup game against Italy on Sunday.
Although she's a standby this time around, Jessica is confident her time will come.
"She really wants to make the world cup side one day," Jessica said.