IT has been a meteoric rise to the top of her game for talented footballer Mikayla Bowen.
The 16-year-old Darlington resident will among the youngest players of the country’s best junior female players in the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships this weekend.
Despite being a relative newcomer to the sport, Bowen has her eyes set on a career in the AFL Women’s League (AFLW).
“My brother played footy from a young age and I would always watch his games on weekends,” she said.
“But it wasn’t until a few years ago I started playing recreational footy at Helena College.
“Scouts will be at the Under-18s championships looking to pick out the top end of the 18 year olds, ready for the upcoming draft for 2018.
“But because I have only just turned 16, I will not be eligible for a few more years.
“I am hoping to play in the AFLW one day, though I still do have a journey ahead of me.”
West Australian Football Commission female programs talent manager Clint Degebrodt said Mikayla was on the right pathway to make her dreams a reality.
“Mikayla is one of our youngest players in the team, yet her application to her role and fierce desire to play stands her in good steed should she want to be drafted in 2020,” he said.
“She is an absolute student of the game, she has a good footy brain and her attack on the ball and her competition is as good as anyone.”
Mikayla, who was best and fairest in her first season at Swan Districts last year, has a strong family connection to the world of ballet and football.
Her grandmother Terri Charlesworth was the first ballerina at the WA Ballet while her mother Lara Gandini was a ballerina with the Ballet de Monte Carlo.
“While ballet has been a big part of my family, I never did ballet,” she said.
“The physicality of footy really appeals to me and I also enjoy the strategic side of the game.
“However football has also been part of our family for a long time.
“My great-great grandfather was a player for South Melbourne and my uncle was also a league player for Swan Districts in the late 1980s.”
WA plays NSW in Sydney tomorrow.