ELLIE Brush is making history.
The captain of W-League club Canberra United led the team to a grand final in the competition’s inaugural year in 2008 and then to a semi-final last year.
She made her international debut in a friendly against Italy early last year and is a member of the Matildas squad.
This year she was named the supporters’ player of the year — all at the age of just 21.
But the talented defender isn’t satisfied yet and is planning to cement her place in a Matildas side that is going through a period of transition.
“It’s a huge honour playing for your country,” Brush said.
“I felt very proud and it was something I always wanted to do — growing up you dream of playing for your country.
“It has been a bit surreal being around all these girls that you’ve looked up to and have been your idol, but to then meet them and play alongside them has been a great experience.”
While her first international experience was at the wrong end of a 5-1 mauling, Brush said her appetite to play at the top level was greater than ever.
“It was an amazing experience,” she said.
“It wasn’t the best result but it was good to get that first game out the way and hopefully there will be many more to follow.”
But with the retirement of Matildas linchpin, defender and captain Cheryl Salisbury, who has more than 150 caps to her name, the doors of possibility are opening up.
“It is relatively new squad,” Brush said.
“So there are places up for grabs, which hasn’t often been the case in the recent past, which certainly motivates you more because you can almost see an opening.
“But it’s not been easy and you have to make every camp count.
“So in the long term I’m hoping to get a place in the team to play in the World Cup qualifiers in May in China and play in World Cups and the Olympics.”
Also in transition is the game of women’s soccer itself.
As captain of Canberra United, Brush is the face of the sport which is following in the steps of Asia, where the women’s game enjoys massive support.
“In the past couple of years it has grown and grown and that’s been really good,” Brush said.
“Especially in Canberra, it’s pretty big in the media where we’ll be in the paper almost every day.
“And I’ve played a few games that were shown live on the ABC which was pretty thrilling.
“I think the women’s game is fairly different in that it’s a lot more of an attacking and aggressive style that’s good to watch — and you don’t get the diving you see in men’s games.”
She began playing the sport when she was five years old inspired, her parents say, by a scene in the Disney movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
But despite her natural talent, Brush has been prepared to put in the extra yards that make a top-level player.
“Even from high school I’ve not been able to go to all the parties or stay out late,” Brush said.
“There’s always training the next day and trips away which has meant I’ve missed a lot of birthdays and family events and just time hanging out with friends.
“Sometimes when you’re in a hard training session by yourself it’s difficult to motivate yourself, but in the back of your mind you know it’s what you have to do to get to the next level.
“In the end the hard times are worth it if you get there.”
Born and raised in Canberra, Brush is a Charles Sturt University physiotherapy student who trains with the SS & A Boomers in the local competition as well as her Canberra side.
But as her star continues to rise, she is one achiever the Border is proud to call its own.