Caitlin Cooper has the chance to swap her pink jersey for the green and gold after being called up to the latest Matildas camp.
The Illawarra Stingrays defender was among 26 Australian-based players to be invited to a women's talent identification camp in Sydney starting on Tuesday. It provides them with an opportunity to impress new Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson and assistant coach Melissa Andreatta as they work towards their final 18-woman squad for the Tokyo Olympics.
Cooper made her national debut over a decade ago and has gone on to pull on the green and gold jersey 10 times. The 33-year-old was last part of the Matildas squad in 2018, but grabbed attention again after a strong W-League campaign for the Western Sydney Wanderers.
"It was definitely unexpected, that's for sure. Going into the W-League season, I didn't really expect to be back into (Australian) camps, but it's great to be back and hopefully I can have a good camp. Then you never know," Cooper said.
"I think it was one of my better ones (W-League season). We had a different-look team this year, but I was happy with my performances. But it would have been better if we had made the finals."
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Cooper will be joined by Wanderers teammates Courtney Nevin, Sarah Willacy and Georgia Yeoman-Dale, while former Stingrays goalkeeper Sally James will also attend the camp. For Cooper, it could be the first step towards fulfilling her Olympic dream.
"With a new coach, you never really know what will happen. But I need to perform and fingers crossed. But I'm not going in with any expectations, so anything's a bonus from here. But it would be a massive honour, something that everyone dreams of really," she said.
"There's no other feeling (like representing Australia), it's indescribable. But it's been a while since I've been in there so I'm not really even thinking about putting on the jersey again. Like I said, everything's a bonus, and I'll take every day as it comes."
Back home, the Stingrays suffered their first loss in 2021 on Sunday, going down 3-2 to Macarthur. Illawarra had claimed three wins and one draw heading into the NSW Women's NPL clash, but a Leena Khamis brace fired the Rams to victory.
"It was disappointing, but we've still got a lot to work on and we're just gelling together as a team," Cooper said.
"Hopefully we can turn things around next week against Olympic because that will be another tough one, they have a lot of W-League players. We need to step up in those games where we face those type of players. Fingers crossed we can put in a good performance."