Sport

Canberra United signs 15-year-old Grace Maher as its youngest ever player in the W-League

 If you're good enough, then you're old enough.

That's the attitude Canberra United is taking after signing the youngest player in its history for the coming W-League season.

Grace Maher, 15, right, and Julia De Angelis, 16, are the two new additions to the Canberra United squad.
Grace Maher, 15, right, and Julia De Angelis, 16, are the two new additions to the Canberra United squad. Photo: Graham Tidy

At 15 years and four months of age, attacking midfielder Grace Maher beats by three months the previous record set by Kahlia Hogg.

Maher and fellow teenager Julia De Angelis, who turns 17 on Monday, are the two new faces in United's squad.

Both are products of the ACT Academy of Sport and have been training under the watchful eye of United assistant coach Raeanne Dower.

Dower said the retirement of Sally Shipard and a season-ending injury to Jennifer Bissett had opened up opportunities to blood several youngsters in the midfield.

"We really wanted to boost those midfield ranks with a view to the future," Dower said.

"These two are just the start of the regeneration process over the next few years.

"We want to make sure the majority of the squad are local, home-grown talent.

"The depth that we have in Canberra and the surrounds means we have a very exciting future."

Maher grew up in Dubbo and moved with her family to Canberra when she was seven.

She is in her first full year with ACTAS after having a training agreement in 2013 where she went on a two-week tour to the US last April.

Maher is a part of the ACTAS team that is in the preliminary final of the women's Premier League, but did not realise she was in the mix for the United squad.

"It came as quite a big shock actually, but I'm so stoked to be in it," Maher said.

"I was doing a little training with them, but turns out it was a secret trial.

"I didn't actually know until Sunday that I was included.

"The experience I'm going to get with them is going to make a difference for the future."

Maher has been selected to trial for Australia's under-17 women's team this weekend, and if successful will take part in a tournament in Malaysia.

"Just over the past couple weeks, my pathways are becoming clear as to which way I can go," she said.

"Hopefully I can remain with Canberra United for many years to come and also Australian teams."

De Angelis is a defensive midfielder who represented Australia at the under-17s level last year.

"That was a really great experience," she said.

"You learn about mental toughness.

"If you don't get put into the team you've got to have a lot of resilience in an environment like that."

American recruits Lori Lindsey and Chantel Jones will arrive on Saturday, while Stephanie Ochs is racing the clock to obtain a visa in time for the season opener away to the Wanderers on September 14 after her passport was stolen.

Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who will miss the season recovering from a knee injury, has been kept involved as the team's equipment manager.