FOR 18-year-old Tasmanian Mia King, it has not been a traditional route to this level, but it has certainly found her well with plenty of opportunity once she opted to follow the Australian rules football pathway in high school.
“I started (when) one of the PE (physical education) teachers at school came up to me – and it was like a school team – he asked if I wanted to get involved and I said yes,” King said. “So it started off as a bit of fun for like a school club, East Launceston, and then I went away on the Kickstart program, started getting selected for (representative teams) and that’s when it really took off. “Then I obviously got selected for the Allies three years ago and yeah, it’s just been getting bigger each year I guess.”
The talented midfielder shared Eastern Allies captaincy in 2019, her third year with the side. King credits the privilege of working with her teammates as something that spurs her on, with her confidence growing from every match.
“This (was) my third Allies trip,” she said. “On the first one I was so young, so nervous and now I feel completely relaxed and comfortable around everyone and definitely it’s really helped me grow as a person being on the trips. “Obviously I was always the one looking up to the bigger girls and now vice-captaining the Allies this year has been a massive privilege and it’s just really great to be able to talk to the girls like that.”
AFL Tasmania has a direct affiliation with North Melbourne in the AFL Women’s, something King said is a massive step in the right direction for juniors aspiring to AFLW greatness.
“It’s so exciting,” she said. “There wasn’t a pathway for any kids and now we’ve got an affiliation with North Melbourne, we’re getting home games down at UTAS and North Melbourne and it’s really exciting to see for the younger girls in Tasmania that there is an opportunity for AFLW at an elite level. “We actually got to train with North Melbourne in our pre-season. We trained with them once a week, so I’ve been training with Daria (Bannister) and the Haines’ (twins Chloe and Libby) which is really good because you’re seeing them at that elite level and being in that environment is really good for development for the younger girls coming through.”
Tasmania had another massive opportunity in 2019, playing three matches in the NAB League Girls as the Tasmania Devils. King averaged 19.7 touches, 4.7 tackles and three inside 50s across the three games.
“I like to just attack the ball, get the footy, I’m a hunter I guess,” she said. “Obviously with NAB League this was the first year they had the Tasmania Devils for the girls so it was really exciting. “We got to (fly) over to Melbourne and play a few games in the NAB League. “I think it was really good for our skill development because I think it really helped us in Blacktown when we came to New South Wales.”
“So it was just really good and I think next year they’re planning to have even more games – like eight or nine – this year we only had like two or three, and trying to get some home games down there,” King said. “Vic’s got a lot of talent and we’ve just got to try and look at their play, learn their strengths but also just focus on our strengths as well.”
With plenty of strong talent across Australia, King said improvement is key with skill development in the works.
“I reckon my skill development still needs improving and I’m trying to keep working on my kicking,” she said. “So I reckon just working on the skills and obviously I was a bit sick at the start of the year so my fitness isn’t really where I want it to be, but I’m just working on that to get it up. “It’s really exciting, I’ve just got to keep working on my skills, fitness and just see what happens.”