Dream debut for Canberra United youngster and former fan

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Canberra United is sporting a fresh new roster this season, with six players making their debut for the club during their round one A-League Women match.

One of those players was 18-year-old local talent Sofia Christopherson who not only earned her first cap for CU but also got to play her first minutes in the ALW in front of her family and a home crowd.

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In a tight game with Perth Glory, Christopherson wasn’t expecting to make her debut but the cheer from the crowd suggested they were eager to see her play.

“It’s weird because you’ve played the game over 1000 times before but it’s a crazy experience, I was excited but nervous. Especially in front of my family, my friends, my hometown, people have supported me throughout my whole career. So, it felt really good to get the last ten minutes of the game,” she said.

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Growing up as a footballer in Canberra her involvement with CU started as a fan attending home games before she pursued a chance at the CU Academy.

“I used to go to every home game possible as a member with my family. Then as I got older, I went to the Canberra United Academy, from there is when I really set in stone that I wanted to become an A-League player and I wanted to pursue my football career,” she said.

During her time at the academy, Christopherson racked up 50 appearances and 22 goals and captained her side during the 2022 NPL season.

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Her performance caught the eye of new head coach Njegosh Popovich who elevated her to the senior squad ahead of the 2022/23 ALW season.

Popovich noted her professionalism, speed, and ability to find the goal as the strengths that she brings to the team.

The supportive environment of CU has helped Christopherson to fit into the senior squad, as she now suits up alongside players she used to watch as a kid.

“It’s like take them as a mentor and use the knowledge that they know so that you can grow as your own player. I know in training all the time I’m constantly getting feedback from the older girls and instead of taking it as criticism you take it as they’re doing it because they care and they do want to help you so it is a good thing and I do enjoy it,” she said.

Christopherson’s debut is just another highlight in what has already been a busy few months for the teenager.

After finishing her Year 12 studies she received a call up into the Young Matildas’ camp, where she played in the final match of the Pacific Four Nations Tournament.

“It was a crazy few months but I was just blown away, I was like everything is coming true. Stepping into that environment with Leah and all the girls, they were nothing but welcoming and it was a completely different environment to anything I’ve ever experienced,” she said.

Due to illness in the opposing team, the final match ended up being an exhibition between the Australian squad as they were split into two teams that went head-to-head.

Despite the spectacle of her inclusion in the squad, Christopherson made the most of it as a learning opportunity.

“Putting a national jersey on and stepping up for your country, it felt kind of like, whoa, this is just so quick. And being around the best players in the entire country of girls my age, getting to see the different skills and talents there, I got to grow and develop myself as well as see where I need to improve,” she said.

After making her debut and shaking off the nerves, Christopherson is now eager for more ALW minutes and do her best to help her team out this season.

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“Now I can just step out onto the field and perform how I usually would, give the crowds something to cheer for or just simply just get some time on the field and get that experience is the goal at this point. But I’d love to get a few goals under my belt,” she said.

At only 18and already feeling right at home with Canberra United, it seems Christopherson is bound for many more games in the green jersey.

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Feature image: Canberra United

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Grace Buckmaster
Grace Buckmaster
Sports Media student at the University of Canberra. Covering Canberra United for the 2022/23 season. Women's sport enthusiast.

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