Shay Evans at UNSW
UNSW student and Young Matildas star Shay Evans taking part in the UNSW Indigenous Prepatory Program in 2019. Photo: Adam Phelan

Speaking to the ABC from isolation in Darwin while waiting out a quarantine period to travel to her home town of Borroloola, Evans was excited by the possibilities opened up by the tournament coming to Australian shores.

"I’m just pretty stoked – the World Cup is in 2023, so it just gives the girls coming through in the Young Matildas and Mini Matildas opportunities to strive for something that’s very massive," she said. 

"There was a lot of emotion coming through when I heard the news and I was just very happy to see Australia host the 2023 World Cup."

A proud Marra woman, Evans moved away from her family at a young age to pursue an opportunity at Westfields Sports High School in Sydney, from where she joined Sydney FC in the W-League.

While football has been at the front of her mind for many years, she also worked hard off the field, gaining the opportunity to join the Indigenous Prepatory Program at UNSW, where she is now in her first year of a Social Work degree.

"I made a lot of sacrifices, moving away from home as a young teenager, at the age of 13 moving away to Sydney by myself, I’ve sacrificed a lot," she said.

"I had to move away from my family and my home town...I had to sacrifice many things, but I’m glad I made the move, it was for the best. And being given the opportunity to move out of my home town and experience new things, it means one day I can come home and give back to my community."

While Covid-19 has impacted most sports, the W-League had the fortunate timing of being played mostly through the summer, meaning the grand final took place, albeit without crowds, before the shutdown of professional sport began.

With some months remaining before the competitions starts for the 2020-21 season, Evans has been able to take the opportunity to head back to the Northern Territory to see her family.

"I’m in Darwin right now, in isolation – I’ve been given a break to go home and visit family," she said.

"I’ve been doing my uni work, doing my exercises and working out and stuff. After that I’ll be going to see my family and going out camping, which I missed heaps, just being around family and hunting.

"I’m looking forward to going home and seeing everyone. I’ll be home for two weeks, which will be enough for me to visit family and then back to Sydney where the hard work starts again."

With three years before the World Cup hits Australian shores, the 18-year-old has some hard work ahead of her to ensure she is wearing that green and gold jersey and running out on to the field in front of packed stadiums in 2023.

While it won't be easy, the timing is near ideal for the Young Matildas vice-captain to put herself at the forefront of selectors' minds when they put together the squad for the tournament.

"I’ll be sitting down, going through a lot of stuff and planning, working to set goals," she said.

"It’s going to be a massive two or three years of working hard – for me and the other girls who really want to strive hard to be in that side and hopefully one day wear that jersey and represent our country on home soil. It’s going to be a massive goal for me."

Shay Evans' full interview with the ABC's Shannon Byrne can be heard on the Sunday Session podcast from the 22:30 mark.