A return to her Illawarra has proven the catalyst for Margaux Chauvet's rapid rise to Australia's top women's football competition.
After a stint with Football NSW Institute - where she broke through for her NSW National Premier League One debut - the Wollongong teen decided to rejoin her former junior club Illawarra Stingrays 12 months ago.
It was a decision that has paid great dividends.
Chauvet become a constant in the Stingrays defence last year and her performances didn't go unnoticed. In November, the 18-year-old was signed by the Western Sydney Wanderers ahead of the 2020/21 W-League season.
And the good news hasn't stopped there. She made her debut in the Wanderers' opening clash with Sydney FC on November 30 and is set to play her third W-League game when the sides meet again in Saturday night's Sydney derby.
"It's been really exciting and the time has gone so quickly," Chauvet said.
"It felt so good [to sign with the Wanderers], I was just so grateful for the opportunity. But the coaches have told me, and everyone just makes me feel like I'm meant to be here. I'm working hard to keep making the team."
While it has been a whirlwind few months for Chauvet, she has been relieved to see some familiar faces at training. Her Stingray teammates Caitlin Cooper, Chloe Middleton, Danika Matos, Olivia Price and Erica Halloway are all part of the Wanderersrs' squad.
Fellow defender Cooper, in particular, has been a great role model.
"Caitlin has definitely been really helpful with the knowledge and experience that she has, but also the likes of Georgia Yeoman-Dale and Leena Khamis, their experience has been very helpful. Everyone has been so supportive, especially the coaching staff," Chauvet said.
"It's definitely been a step up in the quality, the intensity and the professionalism around the game. I've already coming up against internationally capped players and the speed of play has really challenged me, but in a positive way. It's really helped me grow as a player already after just the first two games."
Chauvet's story of her journey to the W-League is an intriguing one. Born in the Ivory Coast, Africa, her family then spent time in France before moving to Wollongong when she was three years old.
Thanks to her football-supporting brother, she quickly became interested in the sport. Chauvet's first team was the Wollongong Olympic under-7s, where she played alongside boys.
She then played for various Illawarra junior clubs, including Balgownie, before getting her first real breakthrough when she joined the Stingrays' under-12s side.
She stuck with the Rays through to representing the under-17s in 2018. At the end of that year, the door opened for another opportunity to play in the NPL One with the Football NSW Institute.
The centre back played 10 games in her one and only season with the side, which finished their 2019 campaign in eighth place.
And while she enjoyed her time with FNSW Institute, Chauvet jumped at a chance to return to the Stingrays last year. In a bizarre, shortened season due to COVID-19, Illawarra finished in ninth place, with Chauvet again playing 10 games.
The teenager looks back fondly on the team's 2020 campaign.
"Being able to step up and play first grade was definitely a learning curve for me. It was a great experience and it prepared me for the W-League season and got me used to the pressure of playing a centre-back role," Chauvet said.
"Being back at the Stingrays with Caitlin and all of the girls has been really helpful because we play as a team during the NPL and they help me grow as a player. They are the best bunch of girls. Because it's a girls' club, I think there's a really good environment where it's all positive and fun."
It was these vital lessons that Chauvet carried with her onto Bankwest Stadium for her W-League debut last month. There was no dream start, as Sydney FC sealed a clinical 3-0 win, but the Wollongong talent played the full 90 minutes.
She started again the following week and was given the full game as Western Sydney recorded a 2-1 victory over Newcastle.
Chauvet now hopes to continue being a regular starter for the Wanderers. Looking further ahead, she dreams of following two Matildas idols and pulling on the green and gold.
"Alanna Kennedy is a role model of mine, I admire her composure and knowledge of the game. And Ellie Carpenter is another, with her work ethic, speed and enthusiasm," she said.
"In the near future, I'd like to make the under-19s Young Matildas squad. And, in the longer term, I would love to one day play for the Matildas. That's always been one of my goals."
Bruce Tilt, who coached Chauvet at the Stingrays last season, has no doubt that the defender can go on and represent Australia.
"Margaux's excellent, she's very dedicated to the game. But what I like about her [most] is her time management. Everyone wants to play the game at the highest level, but being so young, you still have commitment to your school programs and those side of things. And I was amazed that she could put everything without a problem at all, making sure she could prepare herself for football and also did well in her schooling," Tilt said.
"And that's now taken on into the Wanderers as well, the commitment to drive up there and be part of their program is always difficult for girls from Wollongong. But with her good time management, she does everything with a breeze.
"Margaux's very much on the radar of the Emerging Matildas at the moment. She will go forward, but she's got a lot to learn. She's an aggressive style defender. She gets in early and doesn't give the opposition much time on the ball, so she can give away the odd foul. But that just means the opposition are looking over their shoulders, knowing that she's coming for her.
"She's definitely a Matildas in the future, especially if she keeps up with her attitude and the way she wants to play the game."