Shakirah plays AFL in the USA

At just 15 years of age, Year 10 Ascham boarder Shakirah Stevens will jet off to California in mid-October for two weeks as part of the elite sporting program Aussie Sparks, the USA Australian Football Tour 2017. In recognition of her footballing skills and passion for the game, Shakirah’s AFL coach invited her to take part in this prestigious sporting adventure. Shakirah is an extremely accomplished athlete and, prior to her focusing more exclusively on AFL, she excelled in other sports including gymnastics, athletics and judo.

Hailing from Darwin, Shakirah arrived at Ascham just this year to join the boarding school, so it’s been a huge year for her already. While the move to Sydney was daunting, she has fully embraced the opportunities it has provided her. Eager to start playing for an AFL team as soon as she could, Shakirah found a club and started playing for both the Under 18s and the Under 15s Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs teams. Her Under 15s team has moved up steadily and recently made it all the way to the grand final.

Shakirah comes from a family who is madly passionate about AFL, and she’s been an Essendon Bombers fan for as long as she can remember! At age 13 when she joined a girls’ league in Darwin she was astonished to see so many girls playing the game. Since then, the women’s league has grown exponentially in Australia and competition has become more intense and serious.

Shakirah hopes the trip to the US will help her to gain more skills and to get a taste of what it is like to play with more advanced players. The tour includes residencies in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, where Shakirah and other participants will play exhibition matches, run school workshops, take part in training sessions with university teams and act as support training staff.

‘I’m so excited. We’ll even be versing other teams there,’ said Shakirah, ‘and playing against a grand finals team in San Diego, which will be fun!’

Good luck, Shakirah. We can’t wait to hear all about the tour when you return.

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