Canberra United forward Hayley Taylor-Young said it still hasn’t settled in that she can now call herself a Westfield W-League player, after the diminutive prodigy came off the bench in United’s 3-2 win against Jets.
Taylor-Young was subbed onto McDonald Jones Stadium in the 84th minute in place of Ashlie Crofts, as United held on for their first away win in two years.
At just 17 years, 9 months and 5 days old, the Canberra United Academy graduate said she still has to pinch herself to make sure it happened.
“It feels unreal that I can call myself a W-League player,” she said. “I still can’t believe that I am.
“I wasn’t expecting to travel with the team to Newcastle so I was a bit shocked and stoked when I was named in the 16-player squad.”
She was even more surprised when she saw her name on the bench, only finding out a couple of hours before kick off.
“Heather had written out on the whiteboard who was in the starting XI and the four subs and I saw my name up there,” she said.
“I was pretty happy. I had a big smile on my face.”
Despite being on the big stage, Hayley said the nerves didn’t take over.
“I felt more comfortable than I was expecting,” she said. “I didn’t have as many nerves as I thought I would. I was more excited than anything else.
“The adrenaline took over.”
Taylor-Young said her Westfield W-League debut is a reminder to other Canberra United Academy players that the pathway program can lead to a football career.
“You just have to put a lot of hard work into it, and it will pay off one day,” she said. “I tried my best at every training session and I didn’t drop my head when things didn’t go my way.
“It is all about staying committed.”