13/04/2024

Zara Kruger from the Young Matildas. (Photo: Tiffany Williams/Football Australia)

Growing up on her family’s farm in Warwick, Zara Kruger’s success has seen her transition from the Queensland country to the city of Sydney as she aims to follow in the steps of her football hero.

Now living with her auntie in Sydney’s CBD, Kruger’s journey to the Young Matildas team began two hours west of Brisbane, with the young footballer and her family doing four-hour round trips to attend training sessions four or five times per week.

Set to compete in the AFC Under-20s Women’s Asian Cup this weekend, Kruger’s hours of sacrifice have paid off.

As she thanked her family for helping her throughout her journey, she revealed that she has continually looked up to Matildas defender Ellie Carpenter – a player she views as her idol due to their similar circumstances.

“Growing up, I looked at Ellie Carpenter a lot because she was from a small town as well and had to commit to travel and moving away from home,” she told The Inner Sanctum.

“It just really resonated with me because that’s kind of what I had to do.”

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As she remains in Sydney after joining the Sky Blues at the beginning of the Liberty A-League season, she is surprisingly staying with the family of ex-Sydney FC midfielder Sarah Hunter.

Admitting that she has played a minor part in her development and giving her tips every now and then, Kruger revealed her journey is to follow in the footsteps of Carpenter and Hunter and one day represent the Matildas.

“I always participated in touch (football), did a little bit of netball and tried out many sports, but really fell in love with soccer,” she added.

“It was always a dream of mine to make it to the top, but obviously, sometimes along the way, there were doubts and stuff that stops you and makes you think, like, am I going to make it?

“At the end of the day, you just got to keep working towards it and pushing yourself.

“I want to play for the Matildas eventually one day, but I’ve got to work on some things to get there.”

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Now playing for Sydney FC after transferring into the club from the Brisbane Roar, Kruger has been playing alongside the likes of Kirsty Fenton, Mackenzie Hawkesby, Cortnee Vine and fellow Young Matildas teammates Jynaya Dos Santos, Indiana Dos Santos and Shay Hollman.

After ten games for the Brisbane Roar last season and getting continued minutes with Sydney FC this season, one short-term goal is to get more minutes on the field, which will further elevate her potential.

However, as she attempts to earn the Matildas jersey and make the switch from the Young Matildas squad, Kruger has been playing under one of the best women’s football coaches in the country.

“He’s a great coach,” she said of Sydney FC coach Ante Juric, who has played a vital role in her development as a player.

“Many people say that he’s just a big teddy bear. It’s scary, but he’s really a great coach, and I’ve learned a lot more about me as a player under him.

“I like the way he coaches, and he tells me what I need to improve on and what needs to change.”

The Young Matildas will begin their AFC Under-20 Women’s Asian Cup tournament against South Korea on Sunday, 3 March, at 19:00 AEDT before facing Uzbekistan and Chinese Taipei.

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