WESTERN Australia (WA) Under-18 representative, Mikayla Bowen always wanted to be an elite athlete.
Now in her second year of the state program, Bowen is well on her way to achieving her dream, playing in an elite environment against some of the best female footballers in the country. She is ecstatic to be doing this in WA colours.
“Ever since I did start (playing footy), even prior to that, I’ve always watched football in a men’s competition knowing that at my age the women’s competition wasn’t even around,” Bowen said. “Having it around now and being a part of an elite level is just insane and it’s definitely a dream come true for me and for all the rest of the team as well. “I’m sure they’re all looking forward to the draft. “It’s a pathway that’s been set down for us that we can pursue. “It’s really exciting.”
Bowen is only in her third year of football and has already represented her state twice, and made the All Australian squad of 48 after a stellar AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships this year. The 17 year-old was originally inspired by her brother to take up the sport, and is now succeeding in following his footsteps.
“Having my brother as one of my biggest inspirations, he’s played football ever since he was a little tacker, so I’ve been going down to his game every Sunday and watching him play and develop as a player,” Bowen said. “Where he is now really inspired me to head down to Bassendean three years ago now and take out the first tryouts in that. “Ever since then, we’ve just kept stepping up.”
Bowen originally joined Swan Districts in Bassendean with state teammates, Mikayla and Brianna Hyde, and has thrived on the spectacular football community at the club.
“At Swan Districts, the club to me is like a family,” the 17 year-old said. “I went down there on the first day, I was treated like literally they were all my sisters, the coaches were all my family. “It’s such a welcoming environment and I think that no matter how skilled you are or how passionate you are or how long you’ve been playing the game, everybody just loves each other. “It’s a really good environment to be around.”
She admits that the travel was initially difficult but now says it is all worth it, after seeing big progress being made in her team.
“I did live in Darlington originally which is about half an hour away and not having my license, my mum is busy running her own business and I do have a younger sister as well so I wasn’t personally able to get around much with her so I was more reliant on public transport,” Bowen said. “So training started at 4.30 so I’d finished school at 3, would have to run to the bus stop or to the train station and then catch the train all the way up to Bassendean station. “It was a bit of a trek for but it was all worth it really to come and see what we did then to where we are now, every part of it was worth it, it wasn’t really a hassle in the end.”
Bowen plays in teams that are constantly improving, and would like to continue that trend individually, highlighting some skills that she would like to work on.
“I just admire how well the girls can read the play,” the WA representative said. “That’s definitely one of my key points to work on, is knowing where the ball is going to go, where i need to position myself. “I’ve looked up to a couple of girls which I’m now playing against which is really interesting because being on the field with them, they kind of drag you towards the ball and you learn where you need to be when the ball’s there, where you need to be for your teammates and it’s really just learning and living the life of an elite athlete so it’s definitely a dream come true for me.”
Away from football, Bowen hopes to put her hands-on attitude into practice, admitting that a trade would be her preferred choice of career.
“I was originally planning to go to uni and then footy did pick up for me so university didn’t seem to interest me as much when my passion for football came but I don’t take that as a negative, I really personally love hands-on stuff,” she said. “I’d probably die if I was sitting at a desk all day, that’s kind of why I play football.”