ALL the time spent on the training track and on the road is starting to pay dividends for Jaya Bowman, who was recently selected in the junior Matildas train-on squad.
The invitation into this national squad shows the Milton-Ulladulla product is firmly in the selectors' sights ahead of the 2022 Asian Football Confederation under 17 women's Asian Cup qualifiers - which Bowman is over the moon to be a part of.
"I attended an Australian elite trial match previously, where we were informed we would receive an email regarding our selection for the Asian Cup camp with the next few days," Bowman said.
"As you could imagine, the nerves and excitement were out of control for those next couple of days.
"I was checking my emails at least every 15 minutes and finally the email came.
"I was so excited and so grateful when it came through.
"There were a lot of happy tears that day - all the hard work had led to this opportunity and I called my parents back home to tell them the news."
The journey to this point all started in 2015, when Bowman played for the under nine boys Panthers side, as an eight-year-old.
"The Milton-Ulladulla Panthers is where it all began," she said.
"It was the first team sport I had ever played and I was able to channel my competitive nature into that.
"My new goal in life was to be better than all the boys in my under nines team."
She quickly transitioned to playing with a new club, now known as the South East Phoenix (formerly Southern Branch FC) in the NSW National Premier League Two competition - where she spent four seasons.
"Southern Branch FC was one of two country teams in the NSW NPL 2 and we were always seen as the underdogs," the former Ulladulla High School student said.
"I always felt as though we had a point to prove every time we played - although we had less opportunity in football compared to metro teams, Southern Branch FC had heart, it was something really special, it even won us a premiership in 2018.
"Having a big heart in football and feeling as though I have something to prove every time I step on the pitch is something I learned from being a NSW country player and something I have carried on in my football career."
In 2020, she moved to the Canberra United Academy, where she still is today.
"Canberra United Academy was the next step in developing my football," Bowman, who credits the work of Rogue Fitness Cian Maciejewski in her development, said.
"I was introduced to the professional environment within the academy.
"It was so exciting to come into a squad full of talent and I am thoroughly excited to see all the girls' hard work pay off the 2021 season."
As Bowman alludes to, the move to the nation's capital was a big one in her career - one which has helped her start to scratch the surface of her potential as a player.
"My first few weeks of training with the academy was a pretty steep learning curve," the Shoalhaven junior said.
"The competitive nature, which I was lucky enough to be the youngest member of, took me the first few weeks to settle and adapt to the new level of football.
"But throughout the rest of the pre-season and season, I really set my mind to proving that I had something special to bring to the academy."
Following her maiden, COVID-19 affected season with Canberra, Bowman was ready to take her talents to new heights in 2021, with the academy's first grade side in the National Premier League Capital Football competition.
"Everyone was thankful to have a normal pre-season this year with no interruptions from COVID-19," she said.
"It's been a collective effort of hard work from all the age groups throughout the academy - all the squads were looking sharp ahead of the first round.
"Our senior squads have put in the hard yards this pre-season everyone fighting to try and secure one of those first grade spots for the first round."
Mixed in with this pre-season, which has seen Bowman's academy side open the season with one draw and one loss, the central defensive midfielder also enjoyed her sessions with the junior Matildas coach Rae Dower.
"The standard of football being played at the Australian camps was extremely high and really exciting to be a part of," she said.
"Training under Rae Dower and her coaching staff was an honour and an experience I won't forget.
"They all have extremely valuable knowledge to share and are able get the best out of each of the girls."
Due to COVID-19, the squad's next camp is still up the air, but Bowman hopes further training is just around the corner, as they prepare to take on Asia's top teams in 2022.
"The pride that comes with representing your club or country is what makes football so special," Bowman said.
"To be a part of the final squad and represent my country for the first time is something I would carry with me for life."
As well as representing her country in Indonesia next year, Bowman also dreams of plying her trade overseas in the future.
"Playing for an overseas club would be a dream come true," she said,
"Being able to travel while playing the sport you love is not something everyone has the chance to do in their lives."