At just 5’3″, Tayah Palmer is one of the shortest players on the Chapman Valley under-16 side.
- The Great Northern Junior Football League this year introduced its first junior girls competition
- A 14-year-old with advanced skills currently plays for the league’s top boys division
- She hopes to one day play AFLW, inspired by the growth in popularity the sport has seen
She is also the only girl on the team, because before this year the Great Northern Junior Football League (GNJFL) did not have a junior girls competition for her to join.
Already Tayah has advanced too far to play in the girls league, which debuted on the weekend, and the five-year veteran has been given an allowance by the club to not only play with the boys, but to play in the top division.
“The skill level with the boys is a lot different to the girls,” Tayah said.
AFLW a dream for young footballer
Growing up, Tayah’s mum Bec Devlin said she always had a ball in her hand.
“She lives and breathes football,” she said.
“She’s forever kicking it around the house, kicking it at people when they aren’t ready for it.”
The young West Coast Eagles fan has big dreams of getting a scholarship in Perth to boost her hopes of getting to AFLW.
She said watching the AFLW on television has made her even more determined to get there.
“It makes me want to play AFLW more and more,” she said.
“It makes me want to push harder and pursue my dreams of playing AFLW.”
Tayah is not the first AFLW prospect from the region — one her idols, Fremantle Dockers player Roxanne Roux, is from the neighbouring town of Dongara.
Gender not an issue
According to her coach David Kidd, Tayah has a strong chance of those dreams becoming a reality.
“She brings a lot of skill,” he said.
He said he encouraged her to play up an age group.
“I think for her, development-wise, it is going to bring her up and keep her going down this path,” he said.
“I think if she stopped and wasn’t given the opportunity to keep progressing it would have been a lot harder for her to grow.”
While Tayah boasts a small stature, her speed, balance, and ball handling skills are what makes her a future prospect.
She said while she was initially nervous to face-up against boys twice her size, after the first game she was no longer concerned.
“I am tackled,” she said.
“The boys just pretend I am a normal football player. I’m tackled, they tackle me, I tackle them like a normal game of footy.”