‘I’m very grateful that I was part of it’: Grove credits United Academy for her success

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The Canberra United Academy has produced some of the best footballers in the country since its inception in 2016, from Karly Roestbakken to Laura Hughes.

Young gun Sasha Grove is just one of the current generation of footballers who has benefited from this academy, joining when she was just 10-years-old.

She now plays in their NPL squad, simultaneously making the step up over the last two years to compete in eight A-League Women’s matches.

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The attacking midfielder has looked at home in the ALW, receiving the Canberra fan voted player of the match award against Wellington Phoenix whilst also starting in their 5-0 victory against Western Sydney Wanderers.

It’s easy to simply look at Grove now and forget about the years of hard work that contributed to her debuting as a 15-year-old.

The CUA has played a pivotal role in helping her fulfil that potential, something which Grove herself is extremely grateful for.

“It has been really important (CUA) and very much has influenced my personal growth,” she said.

“Even as a younger player when I was 13 and seeing the likes of Karly and Hughesy still playing in the NPL side, it’s a great source of motivation for a younger player because you can so clearly see the pathway forward.”

Since entering the NPL side as a 13-year-old, the attacking midfielder has taken the competition by storm.

Nine goals in her first full season proved the potential she had, cementing herself in the first division side.

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Despite the pandemic cutting both of her most recent campaigns short, she was still able to score a combined 11 goals.

The Academy NPL side play against the best teams in the ACT, many of which include both current and former United talent.

The side is expected to match it with the best of them, working together to overcome obstacles including the clear difference in physicality, something which Grove relishes.

“Just having people around you that are the same age, you’re all going through the same physical battles against some larger opponents. It’s really important,” she said.

“It’s just great to have people your own age just to grow and develop alongside, the program is really important and I’m very grateful that I was part of it.”

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Over the past two seasons Grove has played eight games for the ALW squad, including starting in the past two matches alongside her idols Michelle Heyman and Ash Sykes.

This came after being awarded a first team contract earlier this month, despite beginning the season as a scholarship player.

Vicki Linton had the opportunity to watch Grove first hand this year as head coach of the Academy team, the same coach that gave Grove her start in the ALW.

The young midfielder has nothing but a glowing review for the head coach, crediting her for playing a key role in her development.

“Vicki has been so incredibly important, she’s an awesome person,” she said.

“She cares about the team and everything she does is for the betterment of the squad as a whole. She has been a great influence on everyone, she is such a good coach.”

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It may not have been the season that Linton or Canberra were aiming for after their return to the finals last year, however, players like Grove are the silver lining.

Talented and fearless on the pitch, she has the potential to be the next big thing to come out of the ALW competition.

The sky is the limit for Groves, thanks to hard work and the United Academy.

Feature Image Credit: Mark Metcalfe

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William Makepeace
Current Intern covering Canberra United. Sports Media student at University of Canberra who lives and breathes Football

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