Player Profile: The journey of Kyra Cooney-Cross

Follow the journey of the young midfielder looking to play her role with the Matildas.

Following a fantastic season in the W-League, Kyra Cooney-Cross has been rewarded with a chance to become a permanent member of the Matildas squad, surrounded by some of her football heroes.

Kyra’s ability to slot into any position will be vital to the future success of the national team, given her ability to be a playmaker, striker, and winger.

Fans of the W-League have been aware of Cooney-Cross’ natural skill for several seasons now, making her mark on each team for which she has appeared. However, the first people to see Kyra’s abilities on full display were her parents, growing up with a ball constantly at her feet.

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The Cooney-Cross family are no strangers to the football community, with Kyra’s dad, Jai, playing football at the semi-professional level in Queensland with the Sunshine Coast Fire. This immersion into the football community from a young age shaped Kyra into the player she is today.

Her regular playing with more senior boys and girls challenged the young footballer to succeed. With her mother’s encouragement, enrolling her in Soccer Squirts year after year, Cooney-Cross’ love for the game was established.

Kyra joined the FFV NTC squad to further her abilities, enabling her skills to further develop. She then spent three years representing Ballarat City, coached by Tessa Curtain. The young playmaker was then given the opportunity to represent the Junior Matildas at the 2017 AFC U-16 Women's Championship qualifiers, scoring six goals.

Her first professional contract was signed for the 2017-18 W-League season with Melbourne Victory snapping up the budding talent. By seasons end she had made 12 appearances, scoring 2 goals. Coach Jeff Hopkins had nothing but praise for Kyra after her first stint with the Victory, stating that he could see a big future in the game for the young player.

Cooney-Cross was called up to the 2019 AFC U-19 Women's Championship qualifiers squad, scoring a staggering six goals to put Australia at the top of their group. Her hard work at the domestic level was rewarded with the opportunity to travel with the Matildas to France for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup.

She was listed as a standby player and had the chance to train with the senior team. which gave her valuable experience and allowed the Matildas coaches a glimpse at this versatile player.

Leah Blayney named Cooney-Cross in her Young Matildas squad for the 2019 AFC U-19 Women's Championship and had nothing but praise for the emerging star, saying her explosive speed and ability to play with both feet set her apart from her peers. She made the move to Western Sydney Wanderers for the 2019–20 W-League season, scoring on debut for the club in typical fashion for Kyra, with a 92nd-minute free-kick sealing the points.

Kyra’s versatility on the ball and creative flair from set-pieces helped Wanderers to their first semi-final berth in club history.

She made the move back to Melbourne Victory for the 2020/21 season in perhaps her most successful season of football yet. Surrounded by experienced players such as Lisa De Vanna and Annalie Longo, Kyra shone, often making deadly runs into the box.

The season saw her notch 5 goals, with perhaps her most memorable coming in the W-League Grand Final, where she scored a Championship-winning Olimpico in the 120th minute. She claimed the NAB Young Footballer of the Year, with Hopkins saying he believes she is one of the best talents in Australian football.

Her blistering form for the Victory saw Tony Gustavsson call-up Kyra for their friendly matches against Denmark and Sweden. She was given the chance to prove herself to the new coach and perhaps solidify her spot in the Matildas’ future. Her debut came in the 3-2 defeat to Denmark.

Coming off the bench at half-time and making an immediate impact, she impressed Gustavsson and his coaching staff, so much so she made her starting debut against Sweden and played the full 90 minutes in the 0-0 draw.