Luik joins surfing pals in Matildas squad

Aivi Luik is off to her first World Cup for Australia at the age of 34.
Aivi Luik is off to her first World Cup for Australia at the age of 34.

While the announcement of 16-year-old Mary Fowler in the Matildas' World Cup squad excited the fans, it was another name that revved up the players themselves.

At the age of 34, Aivi Luik is heading to her first World Cup, and she and her teammates are thrilled.

"I've wanted this since I was nine years old when I watched my first men's World Cup," said Luik, a midfielder with Melbourne City and Levante in Spain.

"To get the call, it was just absolutely incredible."

Teammate Laura Alleway said she lost control when informed that Luik was heading to France.

"I screamed. I was ecstatic," she said.

"She was one of those final dropouts from World Cup selection (in 2011 and 2015) and it just broke my heart.

"That girl puts her heart and soul into every performance ... I've never met someone so passionate about the sport."

Something of a journeywoman of the sport, Luik has had stints across the globe with club sides in the United States, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, England, Norway, Sweden and Spain - as well as her native Australia.

Capped 21 times for the Matildas, she hadn't made a World Cup squad despite getting close on a few occasions - until being picked in Ante Micilic's squad.

Along with Elise Kellond-Knight and Tameka Yallop, the pair make up a four-strong 'surfer squad', out to ride a wave of success in France.

"We've been surfing buddies for years," Luik said, saying the time the group spent together in the water had grown their connection on the pitch.

"(Surfing) brings you closer together because out in the ocean, it clears your mind of everything," she said.

Australian Associated Press