Hayley Taylor-Young joins Canberra United's 2021/22 W-League line up. (Photo: Capital Football)

Now three seasons removed from the Canberra United Academy pathway, young forward Hayley Taylor-Young is taking those lessons learned forward with her for another year in the nation's capital.

After graduating from the Canberra United Academy in 2019, Hayley Taylor-Young will be spending a third season in green.

She joins Laura Hughes and Emma Ilijoski as signings for the 2021/22 season who’ve come through the academy pathway. Last season also saw Sasha Grove recruited to the club from its academy.

Its proven to be a strong pathway from juniors to the elite level, United fielding academy teams from under 13s all the way up in the NPLW.

In the 17 games it managed to play across the season, the United Academy finished fourth with a eight win, three draw, six loss record.

Grove returned to the team to play alongside sister Annaliese, while stars of the future including Alyse Jensen, Nadia Zakman, Sofia Christopherson (who kicked 11 goals), and Tayla Hampson appeared in every match.

Taylor-Young spoke on how the academy helped to prepare her to make her mark at W-League level.

“Being in the academy and going into Canberra United… being in that environment they pushed it to be a professional environment,” she told media on Wednesday.

“It set me up leading up to being in the W-League. They pushed us to be better, they let us do conditioning sessions, they made us work hard all the time.

“Vicki [Linton] has set out some good ground rules; you have to be here on time, you have to wear certain uniforms. It sets quite a good standard.”

Hayley Taylor-Young
Taylor-Young (C) on debut with Canberra United in 2019 with Karly Roestbakken (L) and Nikola Orgill (R). (Photo: Canberra United)

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She’s similarly seen the same level of preparation in Grove and the re-signed Ilijoski.

Ilijoski started in all 10 of her appearances last season, while Grove managed 88 minutes on the pitch after being substituted into the game five times.

“I’ve been with Sasha and Emma for a long, long time, and I think them being in the CUA environment was the best for them to move onto Canberra United.”

The modest forward reaped the rewards of her academy training in the 2020/21 season, making two starts from her 12 appearances.

She scored a late equaliser against Perth Glory, which was nearly claimed by star striker Michelle Heyman, and also notched up an assist.

Getting back to business

A Canberra local, getting back to play on the home deck of Viking Park holds a particularly special place in Taylor-Young’s heart.

United fans have earned a reputation as some of the loudest cheerers and most vocal supporters in the W-League, for good reason.

The girls that re-signed so far have all echoed the sentiment of hoping to give them something to get out of their seats over once again this season.

“Having all my friends and family [at Viking Park] is an unreal experience, and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Taylor-Young said.

“I’m hoping to get a little bit more confidence in myself and back myself more often, and hopefully getting a starting position. That’s the biggest goal.

“I want to learn as much as I can from the other girls.”

United head coach Vicki Linton oversaw much of Taylor-Young’s growth as a forward last season, and is looking ahead to doing so again.

“She is a talented young player and it will be good to see her continue developing and to increase her impact in games.”

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