Caley Tallon-Henniker probably long dreamed of finishing her final HSC exam, but she could never have envisioned that it would take place more than 12,000km from the Illawarra.
The Figtree High School Year 12 student needed to find a quiet spot in the bustling Dubai International Airport on Thursday for her Physics exam.
To add further drama to the situation, Caley was waiting for a connecting flight to Uzbekistan with her Sydney FC teammates, having been called up by the sky blues to represent the club at the AFC Women's Club Championship.
The Horsley teenager had expected to complete the exam back home, however, a shock phone call from Sydney FC head coach Ante Juric just days prior forced some quick thinking to set up an international location for the exam.
It's just another thing that the 17-year-old has taken within her stride during her whirlwind journey in football.
The speedy forward began training with Sydney FC's A-League Women's squad recently in the lead-up to the 2023/24 season. She obviously made a quick impression, receiving a call-up to the prestigious club championships - alongside Jessica Seaman - after Matildas star Cortnee Vine and Young Matilda Sienna Saveska were ruled out due to injury.
The tournament - which is a pre-cursor to next year's AFC Women's Champions League - features some of the top female clubs from across the Asian region.
Sydney FC kicked off their campaign with an impressive 3-0 win over Iran's Bam Khatoon in Tashkent, with Caley making her unofficial debut off the interchange in the second half. The side next faces Uzbekistan club Nasaf this Friday.
"It all happened out of nowhere, really," Caley's dad Mitchell Tallon-Henniker told the Mercury.
"She's been training with them as a train-on player, but she got the call from the coach and then it was a mad panic to get everything sorted for her because she had to do her last HSC exam when they were travelling. Figtree High were awesome, they got it organised, and she did it in Dubai airport while they had their stopover. It was pretty exciting and a different way to end her HSC I suppose.
"It's crazy, mate, because she obviously hasn't played A-League or anything like that yet. So not only is it her first senior experience for Sydney FC, but being up against the best club teams in Asia will be an eye-opener for her."
Caley's opportunity comes after completing the 2023 NPL NSW season with the NSW Football Institute. She was picked up in the club's program at the end of last year following her selection in the state's under-16s team.
However, football is not the only sport that Caley has shown plenty of promise in during 2023.
"She's been at a bit of a crossroads really because she played for the Australian Schoolgirls rugby league team this year as well," Tallon-Henniker said.
"She was a bit unsure on making her mind up, and thought she could play both sports, but we came to the realisation that was never going to be possible. But then Ante Juric rang, and that kind of put it into perspective for her, and she realised that soccer was the path that she wanted to follow.
"And Sydney is a club that she's followed her whole life. Training alongside Cortnee Vine, Princess Ibini and Nat Tobin, it's been an unbelievable experience for her so far."
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