“It’s been amazing”: Ella O’Grady reflects on her first season at Melbourne Victory

Looking back on her first season playing at the A-League level, Ella O’Grady has nothing but positive reviews. “It’s been amazing. Just being in and around such a professional environment has definitely helped my development, as a footballer and a person.”

O’Grady was described as “one of Australia’s most exciting prospects” by Head Coach Jeff Hopkins upon her signing last year. The eighteen-year-old up-and-comer has shown serious skills in her opening season and made quick work to prove she belonged at a senior level. 

“Obviously, one of the big highlights was scoring on debut. Definitely,” she said.

Describing her time at Melbourne Victory so far, O’Grady expressed her appreciation for the coaching staff, especially when injury impacted her debut season.

“When I first got injured, we tried to get myself back out there as fast as possible,” she explained.

“Then, with the injury happening again, they really got around me and made sure I did all the right steps to get back out there and keep me in good spirits.”

Specifically, O’Grady showed appreciation for her skipper. “I really look up to Kayla (Morrison). You can tell she’s a captain for a reason, she treats everyone with respect.”

Before her time with Victory, O’Grady was a force to be reckoned with during a stint with the Junior Matildas in the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) U18 Women’s Championship in 2022, proving her star power with an extra-time winning goal that secured their place in the final. O’Grady describes the moment as “one of the highlights of my career so far.”

“Being in the moment, I didn’t really think about it. To think I was the one who got us through to the final. But, being a striker, that’s your job. To be able to have that job is an amazing feeling.”

Now, she’s prioritising her football career, especially after her chaotic schedule last year, balancing football with her high school studies.

“It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve done,” Ella said.

“I moved to a football-associated school, and having the support from staff and teachers around me was the biggest difference. To know I could leave at certain times of the year and still keep track of my assignments was really helpful.”

O’Grady’s keeping her foot on the pedal heading into the offseason, with plans to travel to Sydney to prepare for team selections ahead of the FIFA U20s 2024 Women’s World Cup, kicking off in Colombia in August.

Her aspirations don’t stop there, divulging that playing for the Matilda’s is the “ultimate goal”.

With an impressive first season under her belt at Melbourne Victory, it’s safe to say that the future of women’s football in Australia is in safe hands with Ella O’Grady.