The West Coast Eagles have taken another step towards beginning its AFLW journey by signing the club’s first two female athletes.
Swan Districts midfielder Mikayla Bowen and multi-sports star Rosie Deegan put pen to paper on 17-year-old AFLW expansion contracts that will ensure their place in West Coast’s inaugural AFLW squad.
Both 17-year-olds have been training with the club’s High Performance Female Academy for some time and will continue their development under the watchful eye of the club’s AFLW coaching panel as they prepare for the 2020 season.
Bowen had an outstanding season with Swan Districts last year, earning seven league berths.
The tenacious onballer was rewarded with selection in Western Australia’s AFL Under-18s National Championships squad and was later picked for the 2019 AFL Women’s Academy.
Bowen said it was a dream come true to sign with West Coast.
“I’ve been an absolute diehard supporter of the Eagles for my whole upbringing,” Bowen said.
“Pulling on that jumper, I’m probably going to feel like a bit of a superhero in the moment. It’s definitely something that has been in my vision and I’m really excited to get started.”
She may only stand at 162cm, but Bowen is a contested ball beast.
The Darlington product hoped to get fans onside with her frenetic style of play.
“I want them to expect a ruthless player, a player that sees the ball and gets the ball,” she said.
“I don’t really like to hold back when it comes to game time. I’m quite relaxed and calm off the field, but as soon as I step on the field it’s a see ball, get ball game for me.”
Deegan comes from a different pathway, having played elite basketball for most of her childhood.
She has been a member of the Australian Institute of Sport since 2017 and represented Australia at last year’s Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she helped the nation’s 3x3 basketball side secure a bronze medal.
However, Deegan is far from a football novice.
The Subiaco product represented WA at the 2017 AFL Under-18s National Championships and earned all-Australian honours following the tournament.
And like Bowen, she is also a member of the 2019 AFL Women’s Academy.
Deegan said she was excited to showcase her skills in the AFLW.
“The Eagles have always been really supportive of me throughout my basketball and football careers,” she said.
“They have always been there helping me develop my skills. It was always a privilege for me to be able to sign with the club that’s given me so much.
“Being an AFLW player is just amazing because it’s a pathway that we’re developing so soon and it’s a pathway that I didn’t have when I was younger.
“Being able to be a leader and a role model for girls coming up and showing that there is now a future in this and something they can do and achieve, it’s just amazing for me.”
West Coast Eagles head of AFLW Adam Selwood said the club was thrilled to secure the signatures of Bowen and Deegan.
“It is a wonderful moment for the football club to welcome in our first ever female players,” Selwood said.
“Not only do they bring special athletic attributes, but they are quality people who are great cultural fit for our AFLW program.
“We are very lucky.”