Cowell local Mikaela “Miki” Harding has been kicking goals when it comes to her new football career.
Mikaela, who is studying at Nuriootpa High School, captained the first girls under 17 football team at the Barossa Districts football club to a premiership in the inaugural Barossa, Light and Gawler women’s competition.
As a child, Mikaela used to watch her dad kick the football around with her brother and thought she would enjoy playing the sport, so this year when it was suggested she joined the team, she decided to give it a go.
“My dad’s mate came up to me while I was playing netball for Barossa Districts, and said that I should join the football team but I wasn’t going to because I already had too much on my plate,” Mikaela said.
“I went out to the first training and if I hadn’t gone out I definitely wouldn’t have played.
“The coach (Alex Arthur) was just so inspiring and I stayed.”
Mikaela, who lived in Cowell for 10 years with her parents Chris and Jackie, said she loved challenging herself.
“All the other girls there were so ready to go and open to learning new skills,” Mikaela said.
She went on to encourage a lot of other girls to join the team, which she felt was one of the things that led to her captaincy.
“I was watching my cousin play in the SANFL and the following training Alex told me I was the captain,” Mikaela said.
“I’m really loud on the field, always talking and encouraging my team mates, so I think that could be why I was chosen.”
Mikaela is looking to continue playing football and would love to see a local women’s competition.
“I would love to come back and play locally if Whyalla starts a women’s competition and get to see my family more,” she said.
“However, I’ll be aiming high, AFL Women’s will be the end goal.
“I believe that if you want to be better, you’ll whatever it takes.”
She has advice for any other girls who are looking to get involved with women’s AFL.
“Just get up your skills, practice everyday, get your dad to kick the football with you,” she said.
“Also find yourself an idol, whether it’s a male or female player, watch how they play and make note of what they do and try and put that into your game.”
Currently, there is no female football leagues on the Eyre Peninsula, however, there is talks of a potential league starting up in Whyalla.
The AFL’s women’s league was first founded this year, consisting of eight teams including Adelaide Crows.