Seven months ago, Aoife Colvill was lacing up her boots for Canberra United against Melbourne Victory in her only appearance of the 2019-20 W-League season.
On Saturday morning (AEST), she’ll go through the same pre-match routines: the shared team meal, the tactical talk, the tying up of her laces – one loop over the other.
But this time, the jersey Colvill pulls on will be the orange of Scottish Champions Glasgow City FC as they take on German giants Wolfsburg in the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final.
“It happened so quickly,” Colvill told The World Game from her hotel room in the north of Spain, where the final stages of the competition are being played out between the cities of Bilbao and San Sebastian.
“Scotland was an attraction because I already had family over here and moving overseas at a young age is not the easiest thing to do.
“I’d done a little bit of research on the league because I was looking into England and things like that. I reached out to [Scotland captain] Rachel Corsie, who was in my team at Canberra two seasons ago, because she’s Scottish and very, very well-known here.
“I asked her what the league was like and I wasn’t even expecting anything to happen, but she’s good friends with the manager and obviously used to play here, so she got me in touch with them and it went from there.”
An individual highlights video and a three-month trial contract later, the 20-year-old was offered a two-year deal by Scotland’s most successful women’s club.
Unlike more historic names like Celtic and Rangers, who have only recently begun to invest in women’s football, Glasgow City has been a leader in Scotland’s women’s game for over two decades.
Founded in 1998 by two women, Laura Montgomery and Carol Ann Stewart, they’re one of the only clubs competing in Europe’s top competitions that does not have a men’s counterpart.
Glasgow City also have ambitions to join the FA Women’s Super League in England, where they’ll play week-in, week-out against some of the world’s biggest clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.
“I didn’t actually understand the work that Laura and [Carol], the owners, put into the club,” Colvill said. “They literally built a club from scratch and it’s won the league for the last 13 years. And you’re like, ‘how? How is that even possible?’
“It’s insane. I’ve definitely come to the right place. I know I’ll grow a lot as a footballer and as a person as well; that’s what I’m looking to do. I love travelling and I love meeting new people, so to do that while playing football is awesome.
“My game is already improving. The experience that some of my team-mates have is insane. When I first came, Scott [Booth], the head coach, told me, ‘you need to watch Hayley Lauder play.’ She’s got like 100 caps for Scotland.
“Janine van Wyck [South Africa captain] just signed as well, she definitely brings some experience. It’s honestly just a pleasure to play with these people.”
Glasgow City are the only Scottish club to ever qualify for the modern-day Champions League quarter-finals. This year, after defeating teams from Russia and Denmark, they were drawn against German Champions VfL Wolfsburg, home to global names like Pernille Harder and Alexandra Popp.
“It’s gonna be rough,” Colvill said, laughing.
“I’m nervous, scared, excited – a whole range of emotions. I think considering the circumstances, we’ve done everything we can to prepare. At this stage, we’ve just come together as a team and said ‘look, we’re going to work our butts off and we’re just going to see what happens.’
“It’ll be a really great experience. You can’t pay for experience against a team like Wolfsburg. They’re unreal; you’re playing against some of the best players in the world. I need that experience and I need to develop some sort of consistency in my game because I feel like that’s something I haven’t really had over the last couple of years.
“When I look back to where I was five years ago, when I moved [to Canberra], I was like ‘how is it possible that I’m here?’ I was dreaming of playing for Canberra United. I’ve now done that, and now I’m in Spain, almost playing in the Champions League. It’s a bit of a surreal moment. I’ve got literally nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
The Cairns-born striker, who bagged a whopping 42 goals in a single National Premier Leagues season with the Canberra United Academy in 2018, is hoping to use her European adventures as a platform to put her on the senior Matildas’ radar.
While the 2023 Women’s World Cup is the goal, Colvill understands that players flourish at different times, so she’s willing to be patient.
“Obviously every young Australian girl wants to play for the Matildas,” she said.
“That’s one of the reasons why I decided to move, and I think I’ve got potential, but I’ve got a lot to learn. I want to develop and I want to improve as a player, and I feel like I’m in the right spot for me now.
“If it doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t happen. But I’m gonna do everything in my power while I’m young and can afford to. Why not? Not many people my age can say they’ve moved to Scotland to play football.
“But even looking at Matildas like Aivi Luik or Jenna McCormick, they were a bit older when they got their first call-ups. Sam Kerr has just reached her peak in the last couple of years. So I don’t think I need to put pressure on myself right now. As long as I keep that on my radar, then you never know what could happen.”