A year ago, Karly Roestbakken was playing for the Canberra United Academy and doing extra training with Heather Garriock’s Canberra United Winter program.
Fast forward and the Westfield W-League NAB Young Footballer of the Year Nominee is in camp with The Matildas and Canberra teammate Ellie Carpenter, ready to take on the biggest match of her career.
The 18-year old, who only entered her adult years in January, was called up to Ante Milicic’s Women’s World Cup squad following the devastating news that Laura Alleway was ruled out with a foot injury.
She remained an unused substitute in the loss to Italy, appeared for an injury time cameo against Brazil in that famous win before incredibly, being called into the starting lineup for the final group game against Jamaica.
“I got shivers,” the youngster said this week about learning she would start the match.
“I couldn’t actually believe it, but I was obviously really excited and couldn’t wait to put on that jersey, go out there and sing the anthem.”
Her United teammate Ellie Carpenter has often been seen as the ‘baby’ of the Matildas squads, heading to the Rio Olympics as a fresh-faced 16-year old.
Now though she is essentially a veteran and said the experience she has gained over years with the squad enabled her to help Roestbakken settle into life in camp.
“Karly came in being young and hasn’t been in camp before, but she’s holding herself so well and had a great performance the other night.
“I messaged her straight away when I knew she was coming over; I was super excited for her and couldn’t wait for her to get here.
“I’m very proud of her for making her debut and then making her first start against Jamaica, which is a massive achievement at her first World Cup.
“I’ve told her to go out and play like she does, she’s matured a lot within this group and is fitting in with the squad really well.”
Roestbakken admits the prospect of joining the squad was a daunting one but having a familiar face in Carpenter helped her ease in and the Monaro Panthers junior has hit the ground running since joining the group.
Now, a clash against Norway beckons, a country she is inextricably linked to through her heritage and the prospect is clearly thrilling for the youngster.
“Obviously we’re up against Norway so I am pretty excited about that.”
“It’s a big jump going from Australia and then straight across to a World Cup but I’m just trying to keep my composure.
“We need to go out there and win, so I’m just going to do my thing and try my best for the team and if we go out there and play our way we can put up a great fight.”
Roestbakken’s father Jack has joined her over in France and was in the stands to watch her start the Jamaica game, a special experience for the two of them.
“It means the world to me to have dad here,” she said on Thursday.
“I wish more of my family could be here but having dad here is unbelievable.
“He’s always wanted me to succeed and he’s always wanted me to do the best at something I loved; for me that was football, and he loves football as well.
“So for him to see me put on that green and gold jersey and walk out it means the world to him and he’s had the biggest influence on my football career so far and he is the reason I stuck at it.”
The excitement in Roestbakken’s voice as she speaks while in France is obvious, and there’s a tinge of pride in the way Carpenter talks about her younger teammate.
With Carpenter essentially a lock to play, Roestbakken will again be in contention to start on the opposite side in the biggest game of her life and the Canberra United fullback pairing will both be ready for whatever Norway throw at them.
Catch the Matildas in action at 5am (AEST) on Sunday morning.