15-year-old Kyra Cooney-Cross and 17-year-old Mindy Barbieri have both signed two-year deals with Melbourne Victory.
Cooney-Cross has been plying her trade in the Women’s NPL this winter for the NTC and has been turning heads with 14 goals in only 15 appearances.
Victory’s W-League head coach Jeff Hopkins can’t wait to start working with Cooney-Cross.
“Potentially she could be anything. I think she’s one of the biggest talents in her age group,” Hopkins revealed.
“She’s a really instinctive player in and around goal. She’s a striker, can play as a 10 or as a winger as well.
“She’s one of the top scorers in the NPL this season; from a 15-year-old in a senior competition that’s not bad going.”
The versatility in Cooney-Cross’ game is another area which excites Hopkins.
“It’s not just about the goal scoring side of things, she can create as well, seeing passes and executing.
“From the beginning of this season to where she is at the moment, she’s made massive strides forward.”
Barbieri returns for what is already her third season at Victory at the age of only 17, with 23 W-League appearances under her belt.
For Hopkins, this season is all about adding to Barbieri’s talents.
“As a young player, it’s about getting some more consistency into her game,” Hopkins explained.
“This year there’s a little bit of a challenge for her to get herself into that starting XI – she’s an established part of the squad now, even at that age.
“I see her as a central midfielder, in one of the advanced midfield positions.”
In coaching highly rated youngsters, Hopkins is aware of the challenges which come with growing up in a senior environment.
“They’re still developing, so you have to watch the pressure that they’re putting on themselves, from the outside and the pressure we put on them to make sure it doesn’t get to them.
“This is a senior team with a senior workload and you have to be a little bit careful with some of them to help.”
It’s up to the whole coaching and support staff to best guide the likes of Cooney-Cross, Barbieri and others through the growth period.
“That’s where our physio and our strength and conditioning is really important, especially during the W-League off-season to help build those players up.
“We’ve got to create a good environment for them.”
Stay tuned to melbournevictory.com.au for further W-League signing announcements