Western United young stars Alana Cerne and Kahli Johnson have been awarded scholarships for the Future Matildas program in 2023.
Cerne is one of nine Victorian players that has been listed for the program while Johnson features among players from New South Wales.
Beginning in 2019, the Future Matildas program aims to provide a training environment for the most talented young female footballers to aspire to represent Australia in the future.
Led by Young Matildas head coach Leah Blayney, the program gives players opportunities for specialised training sessions with other aspiring national team players in between the domestic Australian seasons.
Western United General Manager of Football Mal Impiombato said Cerne and Johnson’s selections were indicative of their hard work and dedication over a number of months.
“We are delighted that Alana and Kahli have been recognised with scholarships for the Future Matildas program. This is a fantastic opportunity for both players to keep developing in a high-performance environment,” he said.
“Alana’s rapid development is proof of our development pathway in action and we are extremely proud to see a player of her calibre progress through Calder United, into our Liberty A-League roster and now into a national team opportunity.
“Kahli has been a regular feature in Young Matildas camps and continues to impress on the international stage. As one of the youngest members of our squad, her application and work ethic has been exemplary and she continues to be rewarded with opportunities such as these.
“We are immensely proud of both players and we are looking forward to the benefits this program will bring to them as people and as footballers.”
Cerne has been a mainstay at the heart of Western United’s defence in the Liberty A-League Women this season, missing just one match for the entire campaign.
The 20-year-old has emerged as one of the brightest young stars in Australia’s domestic competition, impressing with her reading of the game, ball-playing ability and strength in the tackle.
This marks the first time that Cerne has earned recognition at national team level and will provide her with a fantastic opportunity to improve and impress coaches and colleagues alike.
Johnson is no stranger to international environments, featuring heavily in Blayney’s Young Matildas side for the last 12 months.
The 19-year-old has only recently come out of camp with the team, scoring against Guam as the Young Matildas advanced to the next phase of qualification for the 2024 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
Having scored her first two Liberty A-League goals last month against Newcastle Jets, Johnson will carry momentum with her through the remainder of the season.
Both players will join the Future Matildas training program at the conclusion of United’s Liberty A-League campaign and will train regular throughout the off-season period.