The result might not have gone West Coast’s way on Saturday, but that did not dampen the spirits of emerging midfielder Mikayla Bowen.
Speaking to Eagles Media after the contest, Bowen said she felt privileged to play in the inaugural RAC Derby alongside her West Coast teammates.
While she grew up a die-hard Eagles fan, the 18-year-old’s immediate focus was not on the honour of playing in blue and gold but of playing alongside her new colleagues.
“They’re a group of girls that I consider family and being able to run out with them is an extremely big privilege,” Bowen said.
“I definitely wouldn’t be able to grow and develop as a player without the likes of Emma Swanson, Dana Hooker and even some of the younger girls; I take a lot from them.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Bowen, who played just her second AFLW game at the weekend, has already shown signs of her prodigious talent at the highest level.
The Swan Districts product does not cut an imposing figure on the field, but she brings a ferocity to the contest that belies her size.
She laid 10 tackles in her AFLW debut against Collingwood and backed that up with four effective take downs against the Dockers.
“I’m generally energetic but calm off the field. For me it’s a bit of white line fever, so as soon as I go in it’s game on,” Bowen said.
“I don’t care if I’ve known you for years, anything in my way I’m going to go 110 per cent at.
“I think providing that heat is something that’s a big part of my game and I’ll continue to run out with it.”
Bowen had long dreamt of what it would be like playing on the big stage and running out in front of more than 35,000 fans on Saturday was an even greater rush than she anticipated.
“For the past year every time I’ve driven past Optus Stadium I’ve imagined what it was going to be like and everything was what I thought it would be but times a million,” she said.
“It’s pretty surreal, there’s a point where you look for your family but you can’t really spot them in a crowd that big.”
Looking ahead to next week’s road contest against Greater Western Sydney, Bowen reiterated the group’s focus on developing throughout their first season together.
“We’re a young team, we’re growing and there’s a lot to look forward to,” she said.
“I think there were spots today that showed how good we can be together.
“Going into GWS is exciting, but at the same time we’re just looking to develop and grow closer as a unit.”