She's got tremendous ball skills. Her ball mastery in particular is way above her age of 13. That stands out in training, stands out in games. She takes that ability that a lot of kids demonstrate in training into games as well.
_ Illawarra Sports High football coordinator Darren Nunn.
The year was 2007 and a pint-sized, baby-faced 13-year-old was being introduced to Illawarra Mercury readers for the first time by reporter Mike Gandon. It was clear even then the quietly spoken kid from Shellharbour was something special.
Gandon wrote at the time: "What Caitlin Foord may lack in size, she more than makes up for with sheer talent, skills and determination."
In Year 7 she was playing as a striker in the Combined High School girls open squad and Dunn remarked at the time he'd never seen that feat before. Caitlin Foord was already one of a kind.
Mum Simone and sister Jamie have witnessed that trademark determination in Caitlin since she was a toddler yearning to walk.
"I still remember being at school with her and through every sport we ever did she was just the best at it," Jamie said. "Everything she did she excelled at."
A decade on and Caitlin Foord is already playing in her third World Cup for Australia. And she is a key part of the Matildas campaign at the FIFA Women's World Cup in France. The Matildas got off to a nervous start to the tournament, Italy scoring a late heartbreaker to win 2-1. Caitlin showed touches of brilliance when the play came her way.
Simone will leave for France with a group of family and friends on Tuesday and will be part of the crowd for the Matildas' must-win second game against Brazil at 2 am on Friday. Jamie's job will be to stay home and look after the dogs, including Caitlin's precious Peach.
In 2018 Caitlin wrote a piece for athlete storytelling website PlayersVoice in which she spoke about her family, her mum Simone, her nan June and the sacrifices they made to help her achieve her goals.
'l'll never be able to repay my mum, Simone, for what she's done for me," Caitlin wrote. Both Jamie and Simone admit the family had to make sacrifices, but neither would change a thing.
"It was difficult but you do what you can for your kids for them to achieve what they love doing,' Simone said.
"Jamie had to stay home when I was taking Caitlin to training because she was like 'mum I don't want to go to Sydney again this afternoon' ... but I've always said to Jamie I'd do exactly the same thing for her."
Thanks to Caitlin's extraordinary talents, the training commitment was huge even at high school which saw her travel regularly from Shellharbour to Sydney.
"Some days she was going in the morning. She had to be up at Sydney Olympic Park at the athletic centre there at six o'clock in the morning," Simone said.
"We were driving up in the morning, driving her back and dropping her off at school at 11 o'clock.
"(Caitlin) wasn't at school much," Simone said with a laugh .... "she got the high school certificate though which was good".
"Mum went through so many cars," Jamie added. Simone laughs when she remembers the old Commodore station wagon.
"The lady I bought it off said don't go driving it out of Wollongong and I was 'wait, I need to drive this out of Wollongong because I've got to get to Sydney'," Simone remembered with a laugh.
It was Jamie who talked her mum into letting Caitlin try football having watched her play in the school playground against the boys.
"She was just doing so many sports," Simone clarified. "We took her down and signed her up for the Warilla Wanderers ... I think in the first game she scored six goals and I said alright, you've gotta forget about the athletics and stuff then you can't keep doing so many sports."
Such was her talents, Caitlin left to play for her first international club at age 18 and, while she returns home to play in the W League with Sydney FC, Caitlin is also a much loved and vital player with Portland FC in the States.
But the Illawarra will always be her home.