Annalee Grove has waited patiently on the sidelines for the past two Westfield W-League seasons.
During that time Grove has honed her skills while at Brisbane Roar and Canberra United, serving as understudy to goalkeepers Mackenzie Arnold and Sham Khamis respectively.
Still yet to make her Westfield W-League debut, the 19-year-old has made the switch to Adelaide United ahead of the impending 2020/21 campaign in the hope of realising a dream.
Regarded as one of the best young ‘keepers in the country, Grove is determined to prove she has what it takes for the number one spot.
“Being second ‘keeper the last couple of years it’s really helped me gain experience and learn off the other goalkeepers, especially learning under Mackenzie Arnold,” Grove said.
“But I think this year I’ll definitely be pushing and fighting for that first spot.”
She added that her goal for the upcoming season is to evolve her game as much as she can under the tutelage of Adrian Stenta and the rest of the coaching staff.
“Getting game time definitely, just working with the team and pushing my game a little bit further,” she said.
“And just getting some more experience at playing football at such an elite level.”
Hailing from Belmont, a suburb in the Hunter Region, Grove spent her early years playing in Newcastle before joining the Emerging Jets program.
At 15 she even sat on the bench with the Newcastle Jets once during the 2016/17 season.
“I kind of played football ever since I’ve been little,” she recalled.
“I started when I was Under 5s, my mum coached me but I was always a goalkeeper.
“I got into goalkeeper when I was about 12 joining the rep sides and it kind of just continued on from there.
“I started with my local club in Newcastle and then I joined the Macquarie rep team and I played with them for a couple of years and then the Jets Emerging program started up.
“I went and trialled for them and made the team and I pretty much stayed with them until I moved to Brisbane.”
Grove joins the Reds having been with the Future Matildas for the third consecutive year.
She admitted the program has not only improved her footballing ability but facilitated the transition to university, despite the occasional challenges.
“Being amongst the Future Matildas has actually been really beneficial in my football and helping me develop as a player on the pitch,” she said.
“Just the resources they have to helping develop me as a student off the pitch as well, it’s been really good.
“They’ve supported me in playing football but then they’ve supported me in my transition to university as well.”
Grove is currently studying a health science degree at Western Sydney University, majoring in therapeutic recreation.
“It’s still my first year so I’m still struggling a little bit in balancing football and studies,” she stated.
“I think I’m getting there slowly but I’m currently in the exam period so it’s a bit stressful at the moment.”
The shot-stopper has represented the Young Matildas on 12 occasions and has had the privilege of travelling to tournaments in Asia, most recently the 2019 AFC U-19 Women’s Championship in Thailand.
She said the experiences have been invaluably, helping develop her game and more educated as a person.
“I’ve come up the ranks playing with the U-17s and then got the chance to play with the U-20s as well,” she explained.
“I think it’s just really beneficial again and just how I was able to experience playing against different countries and learning their styles of football as well.
“It’s kind of opened my eyes to see all the different opportunities there are and I’ve been to so many different countries around Asia and it really helps to open your eyes and know the opportunities you get compared to other girls in other countries.”
Again living away from home, Grove admitted she was looking forward to coming to Adelaide especially after speaking to Future Matildas teammate and Reds defender, Charlotte Grant.
“It’s actually quite funny, apart from the away trip last year I’ve never really been to Adelaide,” she said.
“So Charli Grant has actually convinced me quite a bit, she’s told me some good things about Adelaide.
“And from what I’ve spoken to the coaching staff, I’m actually super excited to join Adelaide this season and hopefully Charli can show me around.”