When Cortnee Vine stepped up to take that penalty against France, a nation held its breath with nerves and anticipation. The stands of Brisbane looked on in stress along with the rest of the country as winning opportunities came and went. But one individual in those seats at Suncorp knew that when Cortnee Vine was about to hit that ball it was destined for the back of the net. That individual was her Mum, Heidi.
“I just knew she would do it. I just knew she was going to win it for us,” Heidi says as she recounts that night.
“I was stressed up until that moment and when she stepped up, I just knew.”
For the Vine family, life has changed forever. Heidi can’t even go shopping without random strangers coming up and thanking her for what she has done for the country.
“To realise the magnitude of that moment after it happened is incredible. I’m getting texts from people who play AFL in Victoria at the pub watching the game and the people around the world… It’s just unbelievable,” she said.
“I get people coming up to me in Coles and saying “Congratulations” and I just think, what have I done. But strangers will tell me I’ve raised a woman that is now inspiring a whole nation. WOW. All you want as a parent is your kid to be the best version of themselves.”
Rewind nearly 20 years prior and a young Cortnee Vine was growing up in the suburbs of Brisbane wanting to try any sport under the sun and for Heidi and husband Gary, they just wanted the best for Cort and her brother Jayden.
“I remember she was quite multitalented throughout schools, trying different sports and winning awards on sports night that I didn’t even know she was participating in. I’m thinking “This is a lot, we need to teach her to slow down,”” Heidi joked.
“In football she loved playing with the boys and she loved challenging herself. It wasn’t fun if she wasn’t trying to win.
“Little Athletics was really good for her as every week you come back and you try to beat your distance or time from last week and it’s all about improving yourself.
“As a young teenager Cortnee aligned with that principle on staying focused on improving yourself. This allowed her team mates to be themselves and this in turn created a team that had fun, would be challenged and was successful,” Mrs Vine said.
Back on the football pitch and in the early 2000’s girls’ football wasn’t as big as what it is now so Cortnee often played with her older brother in his team.
“It was more financially affordable for us to have them playing in the same team, so we didn’t have to travel to different fields across Brisbane over our whole weekend.
“She loved and enjoyed playing with them but there wasn’t really anything promoted with Girls football in the area so we stuck with the schools path and she represented her school and the region in football, even though she got offers to play rugby and other sports during that time because she just loved football.
“Growing up, every second person could see her talent and would often say “One day she’s gonna be playing for Australia” but to get to that point she obviously had to go through a lot in her life,” she added.
“People can say a lot of things but you need to walk the tightrope, have your injuries and experience the ups and downs to get there and as parents we just trusted the process.”
Soon, Cortnee was on the books of Brisbane Roar and from there her life began to take shape. She would balance football with studying and Mum’s would do as they do best and be there when needed, cooking lunches and dinners for their children as they race in and out and then to bed at night.
Turning 18, Vine was ready to leave the comfort of home and grow independently and travelled across different states to chase her football dream and this involved a move to Melbourne and playing at Heidelberg United for a period. After dancing around the Liberty A-League, Cortnee Vine signed at Sydney FC and has played there for the last three years before signing a contract extension to keep her at Sydney FC for the upcoming season. This path has been the culmination of years of work.
“The moving around clubs was her way of getting more game time and showing people what she can do and Sydney FC provided that space for her and believed in her and she certainly has taken that with her two hands and ran with it.”
After putting in numerous performances under Ante Juric at Sydney FC, Vine was soon on the radar of the National Team and was invited to a training camp in Dubai to trial out for the side.
“It was about 11-o-clock in the middle of the night and she rang me to tell me the good news that she had made the squad and we were in tears.
“We were nervous, so happy for her but also exhausted as we’d been wondering if she was going to make it or not, but she was ready and I thought she was amazing,” Heidi said.
“We all thought she should’ve been there five years ago but that was her path to getting there and she had to experience other things to make her the person she is today.”
And then a month ago, Cortnee Vine was named in the Matildas squad and started against the Republic of Ireland in front of 75,000 people at Stadium Australia. And that in itself was a rollercoaster of emotions for her and her family.
“I’ve been on every ride at the theme parks on the Gold Coast, but nothing compares to that month. I call it “The Matil’ It’s Done Lethal Weapon On Steroids,” Heidi joked.
“Seriously unbelievable. So proud of her. I’ve actually had to rewatch the replay of all the games and I’m now up to the France game so that’ll be fun.
“I just have to try and comprehend what happened to this team as that month is just unbelievable.
“To watch her walk out the tunnel for that first game it just took me back to those years on the sideline as I’m just looking at her and she’s just smiling and I can only just think about how she has prepared herself to be the woman she is now,” she continued.
“She inspires us. She’s our role model. But I bet she’s probably out there thinking about how much she loves playing football.”
And then there was that penalty against France. 10th in line to take a spot kick. The moment that has created footballing history for Australia. A semi-final nation for the very first time.
“She always makes the most of every opportunity.
“And during that France game, we are all saying to ourselves to get Cortnee on now, as you do as family of course,” she joked.
“I could see it going to penalties and I had to keep myself at a certain level to keep the nerves and bay, but you don’t know where the girls are going to go in order for the kicks.
“When it got to that point I was quite calm as I know Cortnee loves pressure and she just plays football. She thrives under pressure and it is just part of her.
“She doesn’t realise it but she leads by example on the pitch.
“She has wanted to do these things and she is that sorta kid that will,” she added.
“To step up to that and realise the magnitude of what she has achieved. Unbelievable.”
Now the shift turns to the Liberty A-League season for Cortnee and of course her number one fan, Heidi.
“We love Cortnee and we will cheer her on exactly the same as what we did before to what we do after that moment. She is still the same girl to us and now we have to try and get back to normal living,” she laughed.
“I hope the A-League gets gets all the backing like you will not believe.
“Football here in Australia is amazing. These girls are so skilful and so talented.
“I met a lot of the Matildas Alumni and I just wanted to tip my hat off to them. They paved the way. And if you cheer on the current generation and get involved, you can help and be part of the next generation.”
“But I’ll just celebrate this now and hope it grows from here,” Heidi added.
And as the dust settles on the moment and Cortnee’s place in Australian football history, her Mum will be right there when she needs.
“I haven’t spoken to her much since then, but I’ll be there when she needs. I’m just the same old Mum doing the same old thing.”
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