MIKELLA Johnson’s pioneering efforts in women’s football at Warwick Senior High School have carved a pathway for future generations.
The 16-year-old Marangaroo resident was the first female to be selected in the school’s football program at age 13 and remains a part of it to this day.
Women’s football did not have the profile then as it does now and she admitted it was a challenge to be accepted by her male counterparts.
But she had played in boys’ junior football from ages six to 12 in Coolbinia so was accustomed to proving herself.
“Being with guys for me wasn’t that hard,” she said.
“I think being accepted by them was a bit of a challenge, but it helped me grow more and when it comes to games I’m just one of them.”
Johnson is among the state’s most talented footballers for her age, having been a part of the WA under- 15s team last year and a member of the State Academy since 2015. She is a 100-game player in the WA Women’s Football League and has spent time as a youth girls ambassador for the WA Football Commission.
She considers these highlights in her burgeoning football career.
The Coastal Titans player started junior coaching this year saying she has a passion for promoting girls’ footy.
“If it wasn’t for so many strong women over the years pushing forward, we couldn’t be where we are now with the game,” she said.
“I am finding it fantastic to see so many younger girls coming through to play.”
The excitement of women’s football going professional in the AFLW this year has given Johnson the ultimate goal.
She draws inspiration from the perseverance of 2015 Titans premiership player Renee Forth, who was selected as a marquee signing by GWS, but missed the inaugural AFLW season after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament.
“Because she also has coaching skills she was still able to be part of GWS as development coach during her rehab,” Johnson said.
“Any strong motivated girl or woman inspires me, even the young ones I coach.
“I love to see this sport being enjoyed by so many more now. To be part of that growth not only helps others, it pushes me forward.”
Johnson is a nominee in the Community Newspaper Group’s Local Sports Stars awards. To nominate a junior athlete visit www.localsportsstars.com.au.