Despite her tender age, Cortnee Vine has already undergone quite the journey to get to where she is now.
Originally from the northern Brisbane suburb of Redcliffe, the Newcastle Jets attacker has plied her trade in her native Brisbane, in Newcastle, Sydney and in Melbourne in her short career; running out in the W-League for the Roar and Jets and in NPL competitions for the likes of Sydney University SFC and Heidelberg United.
On top of these achievements in clubland, the 20-year-old has made her mark on the international stage, pulling on the green and gold shirt at both an U17 and U20 level.
Not bad for someone that spent a large period of her formative footballing years unaware of the W-League’s existence.
“I actually played with the boys until I was 15,” Vine laughs as she recalls her footballing origins.
“I was playing BPL boys with my local club, Peninsula Power. I was there for about three or four years I think, just playing in the top league with the boys.
“The only reason I actually ended up going to the girls league was because my coach told me if I don’t go to the girls I won’t get picked anywhere, by any teams.
“I actually thought I would make the A-League, I didn’t know there was a W-League until I was in the QAS squad for Brisbane Roar and I went from there.
“I just played with the boys my whole life really, growing up.
“I didn’t really know about girls’ teams, I just really enjoyed playing with the boys. I just wanted to play with my brother so I just kind of went with the whole boys’ team thing.”
With a W-League contract now in hand (and firmly aware of the existence of the pathways available to girls in Australia) Vine has recently begun to serve as a mentor to the next generation of talented youngsters; taking up an ambassador position with Roselea Football Club in Sydney’s northwest.
It’s a role that the Vine relishes, using the experiences gained on an unorthodox journey to the W-League to impart much-needed wisdom on the stars of tomorrow.
“I definitely think its important for the young girls to know there’s a process,” Vine told dailyfootballshow.com.
“There is a way to get to the W-League and it doesn’t have to be the same way as everyone else.
“My way was completely different from a lot of girls.
“A lot of my friends, they played with the girls for a while and got picked from that, but my life was different, so I just like to tell the younger girls about it.
“I hope they want to make the W-League like I did… when I knew about… once I knew about it.
“I really enjoyed being Roselea ambassador and I feel like I got a lot out of it and I hope the girls got a lot out of it as well.
“I took some clinics, I did a little bit of coaching with the girls, I participated in some of their training, having a kick about with the girls. I was more of a mentor for them.
“They could ask me questions about anything and I was there to listen and help.
“We had a night for the parents as well and they asked me questions about where I got to where I am and got to know me a bit, so it was more a mentor role I think, mentoring those girls.”
Vine will be returning for her second year with the Jets in 2018-19, having made 11 appearances in her first season with the Hunter based side after making the switch from the Roar prior to the 2017-18 season.
Primarily used an impact substitute, Vine was part of a Jets squad that finished an impressive third on the W-League table, eventually going down 3-2 to Sydney FC in extra time in the semi-finals after Tara Andrews dramatically had brought the Jets level in the 92nd minute of regulation.
Looking ahead to the upcoming campaign, Vine is keen to make a mark that will resonate.
“I really want to have a good W-League myself,” she said.
“I don’t really feel like I’ve had a killer W-League season since I’ve been in it.
“That’s my individual goal this season: enjoy my season, enjoy my football, hopefully, play really well and get some game time.
“I want to be a starting player this year so hopefully I can push for that.
“As a team, we want to win it. I think we came pretty close last year and were a bit unlucky but I’m still proud of the team and hopefully, we’ll go one better this year.”
Vine spent the most recent W-League offseason with NPLW NSW side Sydney University SFC, terrorising opposing defences as she scored 22 goals in just 18 matches and helped propel her all the way to an ultimately unsuccessful grand final.
It’s a league that Vine – who moved to NSW from Brisbane as an 18-year-old to continue the pursuit of her footballing dreams – enjoys immensely.
“When I go to the NPL I want to go back and enjoy my football,” she explains.
“As long as I’m enjoying it – I’m obviously trying to work hard and improve myself all the time – but I definitely look at NPL as trying new things.
“(I’m) trying to get as much game time as I can, because in the W-League I haven’t been starting, so NPL is a good way to get my 90 minutes up and learn some stuff and score some goals and be ready for W-League”
Asked if she would one day like to spend her offseason in North America or Europe instead of the NPLW, Vine then offers a refreshingly candid answer.
“I’m going with it at the moment so if something pops up I would definitely consider it,” she explains.
“But I’m not really searching for it yet, I’m still trying to develop myself in Australia and make a name for myself here before I go somewhere else.
“But I definitely want to go see and experience like an NWSL or even play in Sweden or Norway.
“Anywhere like that, so I can gain more experience and learn a different style of gameplay, I’d definitely not shut it out.”