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‘How am I getting drafted?’ Madison Haley’s road to Australia

Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images via Sydney FC

Thinking back to her National Women’s Soccer League College Draft experience in 2021, striker Madison Haley pauses for a beat before saying, “I mean, that was like a whirlwind.”

Unlike every prior draft the league has ever held, in 2021, the NWSL decided to make every college senior eligible to be drafted — whether they declared for the draft or not. With all collegiate players able to take an extra year of eligibility after losing a season to Covid, this created the risk of players getting drafted in spite of their plans to continue their education. 

This is exactly what happened with Haley. The Stanford forward was drafted seventh overall by the Chicago Red Stars although she had planned on finishing her master’s degree and playing the 2021 NCAA season. 

After graduating in 2022, Haley didn’t head to Chicago. Instead, she traveled far across the world to play in the Australian A-League Women’s side Sydney FC where she had an immediate impact and helped lead her team to a double, winning the Grand Final championship and Premiership — the honor given to the club that finishes first in the standings. 

Haley sat down with The Equalizer to discuss the whirlwind experience of the draft and her decision to  —  at least temporarily  — forgo Chicago for the chance to play in Australia, but also where in the world we might see her pop up next.

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