Together with Australian football publication False Nine, we’re celebrating Australian football’s most exciting, electric, and bold youngsters poised to take on the league.

This is Up Next, Australian football’s new wave.

Alou Kuol, Central Coast Mariners

You know him for that interview, but there’s so much more to Alou’s story than a few soundbites on Fox Sports.

He was born in Khartoum in Sudan. When was just a few years old his family fled to Egypt before migrating to Sydney, eventually settling down in Shepparton in northern Victoria.

Alou took to football like we all wish we could, banging goals for fun at all levels of the game as he moved from youth football to the NPL2 with the Goulburn Valley Suns. He bagged 20 goals in 12 games in his final season in the youth team. That’s probably why it was his final season in the youth team.

All of these goals caught the attention of Nick Montgomery, former Central Coast midfielder, who brought him up to Gosford. He made his debut last season and is poised to continue on with what he does best this season; bust nets.

Apparently his younger brothers are all excellent footballers too, and not far off of the A-League themselves. We can’t wait for the Kuols to take over Australian football.

Charlize Rule, Sydney FC

Like most footballers, Charlize’s football career began in the backyard. Her older brother Bailey playing an instrumental role in her development, making sure all of her early football was played against the boys. Charlize had to develop her technique quickly to keep up. And keep up she did.

She kept playing with the boys when she joined Queens Park FC, before playing in the WNPL for Sydney Uni at just 11 years old.

It wasn’t long before the NSW Institute of Sport team came calling, providing a professional platform for Charlize to continue her development.

Shortly after, Ante Juric invited Charlize to join Sydney FC for training when she was still only 14. After a couple years training with Sydney, Charlize secured her first professional contract this year.

Since 2019, Charlize has been part of the Junior Matildas setup, further proof that Sydney FC have one of Australian football’s most exciting young attacking midfielders on their books.

Rahmat Akbari, Brisbane Roar

Despite hailing from war-torn Afghanistan and coming Down Under as a refugee, 19 year-old Rahmat Akbari has already spent four seasons in the A-League.

Debuting at just 17, Rahmat’s played for both Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory, clocking an impressive 15 caps for the Australia’s U17s Joey’s along the way. He’s not messing about, is he.

Rahmat was born in Jaghori, Afghanistan in 2000. Let’s just say that, at the time, it wasn’t the safest place in the world. His father spent years earning his permanent residency in Australia and after five years of separation, the Akbari family was reunited, moving to Brisbane where Rahmat started school at Beenleigh State Primary.

Taking up football would prove a pretty good decision. He quickly rose through the ranks, signing for the Brisbane Roar Youth team and being selected for the Australian U16 national team by the time he was 15.

Rahmat’s brother, Mehdi, recognised his brother’s talent from a young age and felt obligated to give him all the help he needed, taking six months off in 2013 to travel with Rahmat to Europe where he trialled with some of the world’s biggest teams.

Rahmat made his professional debut for the Roar’s senior team, coming on as a substitute in the 2017 A-League opener against Melbourne City at the tender age of 17.

Tessa Tamplin, Newcastle Jets

Tessa Tamplin made her debut for the Newcastle Jets as a 17-year-old in January 2019. She’s played just about every game since.

But it’s her goal from 35-yards, no, 40-yards out, from the touch line, that we need to mention. A goal like this, for anyone, would be a moment to remember. Not for Tessa.

After beating three hapless Perth Glory players and carrying the ball from her own half, Tessa spotted a few Jets players tearing into the box and thought, like any good full-back, she’d lump in a speculative cross. After spooning it higher and wider than she wanted, she turned, swore loudly, then started trotting back to halfway, her spooned cross nestling into the top corner.

Tessa’s been part of the Young Matildas set up for the last year or so. With these 40-yard screamers, it can’t be long before she’s banging them in for the Matildas. Just have to make sure we tell her when they go in.

Raphael Borges Rodrigues, Melbourne City

Raphael Borges Rodrigues may look familiar to you. Former Adelaide United legend, Cristiano dos Santos Rodrigues, is his old man. Football is the family business.

Unlike some football dynasties, Rapha’s forging his own path, moving to Melbourne City last season to try his hand in light blue.

It seems to be going well for him. In August Rapha made his debut for Melbourne City as a 16-year-old. Imagine doing your school certificate then popping to AAMI Park for a kick-about in front of ten thousand people.

Rapha’s a striker, so you’ll find him up top trying to crack into the starting lineup of a team full of impressive forwards. He’s got his work cut out for him, but if his old man’s anything to go by, that shouldn’t be a worry.

Kyra Cooney-Cross, Melbourne Victory

Originally from Queensland, Kyra Cooney-Cross has headed back down south to Melbourne Victory after a brief sojourn in the red and black of Western Sydney. It’s a club she knows well, having made her W-League debut for Victory in 2017 as just a 15-year-old.

The skilful teenager’s nose for goal and range of passing saw her bag four and assist three more last year from attacking midfield. Lisa De Vanna is going to eat that up this year.

Kyra’s already spent plenty of time in the green and gold, playing for both the Junior and Young Matildas. She’s got an awful lot of football under her belt for someone who’s still only 18 years old. It’s just a matter of time until she’s sliding in balls for Sam Kerr to stick away. The future of the Matildas is in good hands.

Charles M’Mombwa, Macarthur FC

Born in Baraka, Congo, Charles’ family fled the war when he was just two years old to Mozambique. Things didn’t really settle down for his family there either, so they fled to Zimbabwe where he grew up. After just shy of a decade in Zimbabwe, the M’Mombwas migrated to Australia.

Charles had football in his blood. His father was a footballer in Congo, and a coach after his playing days. When he saw his big opportunity, his mates crowdfunded the money he needed to trial with Dulwich Hills FC in the National Premier League.

Fast forward a couple years and Charles was making his debut for the Central Coast Mariners in the 2018 FFA Cup against Adelaide United.

Though things didn’t quite work out for him in Gosford, Charles is back in the A-League with Macarthur FC. There’s a video on YouTube of Charles making other footballers look like they’re running underwater. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour. He scores goals from anywhere.

Charles also participated in the African Cup, a football competition held in Sydney contested by teams made up of players from the great African diaspora in Australia, joining a proud list of African footballers now playing in the A-League.

Courtney Nevin, Western Sydney Wanderers

Courtney Nevin’s nickname is ‘Lethal’. We thought we’d just leave it at that. What else can we add about a full-back with a left foot that good?

Her first full season with the Western Sydney Wanderers saw her win the prestigious Wanderers Medal, playing every minute of every game including the club’s semi-final against Melbourne City.

Sure, she plays at the back, but she loves to get forward. Against the Newcastle Jets last season she bagged three assists as the Wanderers won 3-1. Yep, all of them.

Courtney’s already a regular for the Young Matildas. If we were a betting lot, we’d be laying on heavy to see her in the full squad before long.

It’s hard to see her hanging around the W-League forever. Europe always comes calling for the best. Let’s enjoy her while we can.

Dane Ingham, Perth Glory

Dane’s been around the A-League for a little while now, debuting for Brisbane Roar back in 2017 as 17-year-old. Just a pup.

Despite being eligible for Australia, Samoa and New Zealand, Dane joined the All Whites in Russia for the 2017 Confederations Cup, a World Cup warm-up of sorts, playing against Portugal, Mexico and Russia. They lost the lot, but playing against Ronaldo and his mates gave Dane the kind of experience most of us would would pay good money for.

Before long he found himself on the west coast with Perth Glory. The return of the A-League following the shutdown this year saw Dane become a standout for the Glory, carrying that form into the Asian Champions League.

Dane’s a versatile player. You’ll most likely see him marauding up and down as a full-back, but he’s equally happy a bit further up the park in a wing-back or wide midfielder role. Left or right, doesn’t matter to Dane. Must be nice.

Unofficially, he’s the first name on the team sheet. But that’s just our opinion. You’ll need to chat to Richard Garcia about that.

Charlotte Grant, Adelaide United

Having claimed the Female Rising Star and Player of the Year Award in 2018 playing for South Australia’s National Training Centre side in the Women’s National Premier League, Charlotte’s rise in Australian football has continued at pace.

She joined Adelaide United in 2018, and was named the Westfield W-League Rising Star of the team in her first season with Adelaide. Just a local girl playing for her local club. What dreams are made of really.

She’s been getting up and down the wings ever since, earning herself a spot in the Young Matildas, with a few caps under her belt already.

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