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AFLW hopeful 14-year-old Tayah Palmer proves gender is no challenge in her dream of playing at the top


At just 5’3″, Tayah Palmer is one of the shortest players on the Chapman Valley under-16 side.

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.

Action shot of Tayah Palmer in the number 3 blue jersey, tackles a boy in a red jersey on a football pitch.
Tayah Palmer is not treated any differently on the field.(Supplied: Bec Devlin)

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.”

Tayah Palmer, wearing white T-shirt, stands next to West Coast Eagle Josh Kennedy, wearing black T-shirt.
The young footballer, here with Josh Kennedy, is a passionate West Coast Eagles fan.(Supplied: Bec Devlin)

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.”



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