Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams dreamed of representing her country as she watched Cathy Freeman tribute the Indigenous flag at the Sydney Olympic Games.
But now the 31-year-old has gone from kicking a Sherrin in the small dusty Western Australian town of Katanning to championing the indigenous community at her fourth FIFA World Cup in France.
"[Representing the indigenous community] is something really cool and it hasn't been an easy road," Williams said.
"It's nice to hopefully see more indigenous people in the game in the future."
Women's football in Australia has evolved enormously since Williams stepped onto the frosty field for Tuggeranong United 20 years ago. Her family moved to Canberra when she was 11-years-old and she initially joined the club to make friends.
With the likes of Sam Kerr, Lisa de Vanna and rising star Mary Fowler as teammates, the goalkeeper said she's been privileged to play alongside the golden generation of Matildas.
"I love playing for my country and getting to it in such an amazing stage [of women's football] with such amazing players is humbling," Williams said.
"People are coming to our games and our jerseys are being sold. With that kind of high profile there's more pressure on us but that's part of the game when you become well known.
"It's amazing to see how much the game has evolved in Australia."
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But Williams' journey to her fourth World Cup hasn't been easy as injuries and the pressure to maintain form has taken its toll.
The goalkeeper's career nearly came to an abrupt end five years ago after she tore her anterior cruciate ligament for the second time while playing in the United States. Williams underwent her second knee reconstruction in two years but managed to return to the Matildas just nine months later.
"Injuries take a toll on you so to be able to play this long has been pretty crazy," Williams said.
"I'll have to look after my body but I wouldn't rule out the next World Cup as a possibility."
Matildas great Heather Garriock believes Williams is essential for Australia to make their maiden World Cup final.
"I think she's one of the world's best goalkeepers, not just Canberra's best but one of the world's best," Garriock said.
"Lydia is key for the Matildas to have a successful World Cup campaign.
"She's very dynamic, she's a great shot stopper. In big moments in tournaments she has really produced and she's very experienced as well."
Garriock will be the head analyst for Optus Sport's coverage of the Women's World Cup and joins Melanie McLaughlin, Richard Bayliss and Amy Duggan at the helm.
Optus will broadcast all 52 matches and offer complimentary access for schoolchildren to "provide an opportunity for [them] to see a different future."
Meanwhile SBS will televise all Matildas matches, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final.
The Matildas will kick off their World Cup campaign against Italy at the Stade du Hainaut on Sunday, 9pm.