Haffenden excited and grateful as Brisbane Roar breakthrough leads to European experience

Fresh from a breakthrough Liberty A-League campaign with Brisbane Roar, defender Annie Haffenden has secured her first contract in Europe to cap a “whirlwind” six months.

Haffenden, who is celebrating her 20th birthday on Sunday, has signed with Swedish side Vaxjo DFF on a deal running until July 2022.

The opportunity materialised towards the end of her first season with the Roar and first at the top level, which included 13 appearances as she delivered on the opportunity provided by Garrath McPherson.

“It was very unexpected but super exciting,” Haffenden said from Sweden.

“I had a FaceTime call with Vaxjo DFF’s sporting director Dennis [Popperyd] and head coach Olof [Unogard] the day that I found out, so it all happened quite quickly.

“Both Brisbane Roar and Vaxjo DFF have been really supportive with my transition into an overseas playing environment, so I’m really grateful for that.”

Image: Kyoko Kurihara

Haffenden has commenced training with her new team ahead of their Elitettan season opener next Saturday, 2 April.

The young centre-back hopes to continue building on the significant steps she has taken in Brisbane, especially with the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup coming up in August.

“The past six months have been a bit of a whirlwind,” she said.

“I’m really grateful that Roar gave me an opportunity to develop at an A-League level, because without it I wouldn’t have the opportunity to play overseas right now.

“The A-League season was a really good experience. The environment was really positive and all the girls are both great people and athletes. I think we gained momentum towards the second half of the season, it’s just a shame that the season is short.

“I’m very grateful that Garrath took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to play at an A-League level.”