TWO of the Minerva Network’s rising stars, footballers Ellie Carpenter and Jada Whyman, are kicking goals on and off the pitch as their profiles soar on the back of standout performances for their clubs and country.
Ellie and Jada are both 18-year-olds who grew up in country NSW before making Western Sydney their home, but their football prowess is already taking them around the globe.
Ellie created sporting history in the US on 20 May when she became the youngest ever player (18 years 22 days) to score a goal in the National Women’s Soccer League, slotting home a match-winner for Portland Thorns against Washington Spirit.
Jada, who represented Australia at the 2017 AFC Under-19 Women’s Championships in China and trained with the senior squad the Matildas in pre-season, had a stellar 2017/18 season for her W-League club Western Sydney Wanderers, walking away with both the club’s Player of the Year and Members’ Player of the Year awards. Her work off the pitch was recognised when she was announced as the rebel Role Model of the Year at Australian Female Football Week.
Noted as a strong defender, Ellie was a member of Australia’s national team the Matildas that won the 2017 Tournament of Nations in the US and finished runner-up at the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup in Jordan.
Ellie is making a habit of creating records. She has been a regular member of the Matildas squad since she was 15 and became Australia's first international soccer player (male or female) to be born in the 21st century.
She was the youngest Australian Olympian at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the youngest ever female footballer to compete at the Olympics.
On May 9 this year (2018), Ellie became the youngest ever player, 18 years and 11 days, to appear in an National Women’s Soccer League game in the US after signing her first professional contract with the Portland Thorns.
“I wanted to play in the US as soon as I turned 18 (the NWSL age requirement) to test myself both as a player and a person,” Ellie confided.
“It is very different living and playing in the US but I am keeping myself centred and taking it one day at a time while learning as much as I can, and it’s so far so good.”
Jada is a goalkeeper who many good judges believe is destined to play for the Matildas in coming seasons. She has quickly become a role model for young Indigenous women around the country.
The 2017/18 season was just her third in the W-League and she was delighted to be recognised by her club and Wanderers Members for her performances in the red and black.
“The awards were a great honour. I love playing football and I feel very proud to play for the Western Sydney Wanderers,” Jada said.
“I also felt very privileged to be named Role Model of the Year. I am a very proud Aboriginal woman and I hope that what I’m pursuing with my football will help to inspire other young Indigenous players to follow their dreams, just as Kyah Simon and Lydia Williams (current Matildas players) inspired me.”
Ellie and Jada are both sporting Ambassadors at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, working with the Stadium on its community and charity programs.