The 16-year-old Darlington resident was one of the youngest on the field when she hit the ground running alongside the country’s best junior female players in the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships last weekend.
Despite being a relative newcomer to the sport, Mikayla 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 that I started playing recreational footy at Helena College.”
Mikayla said she had a long journey ahead of her before she reached the peak of her sport.
“Scouts were at the under-18s championships looking to pick out the top end of the 18-year-olds, ready for the upcoming draft for 2018,” she said.
“But because I have only just turned 16, I am not eligible for a few more years.”
WA Football Commission female programs talent manager Clint Degebrodt said Mikayla was on the right track 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 stead 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 Charles-worth 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 it,” she said.
“The physicality of footy really appeals to me and I also enjoy the strategic side of the game.
“Football has also been part of our family for a long time. My great-great grandfather played for South Melbourne and my uncle was a league player for Swan Districts in the late 1980s.”
Mikayla kicked three goals for WA in its convincing win in Sydney, 15.9 (99) over. NSW/ACT 2.0 (12).
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