Mya Cozzoul’s dream of becoming a professional football player has taken a big step forward in recent months.
- New sports academy’s first cohort includes 45 athletes and is the first of its kind at TAFE Queensland
- Mya Cozzoul says the program is helping young women to forge career pathways into professional sports
- Two athletes have been selected for a Gold Coast football academy while others have played for the Northern Pride or qualified for Olympic trials
“I’d love to be listed with Gold Coast Suns or hopefully get drafted, it’s so much closer to home,” Mya said.
“I’ve only come into the sport recently, but I’ve thrived, this program gives young people like me an opportunity to excel.”
Mya is a student, and one of 45 aspiring athletes taking part in TAFE Queensland’s new Academy of Sport in Cairns.
At the academy, a tailored sporting program is created for each participant, who also take up a TAFE course of their choosing.
At 17 years of age, Mya plays for the Cairns City Lions women’s team and the club’s junior team, while studying allied health at TAFE.
“AFL is a high intensity, fast-thinking sport with a lot of adrenalin, and I can be aggressive,” she said
“Once I heard about the program, I was super excited and my future was a lot more achievable”.
For Mya, it’s the big break she’s been waiting for, bridging the gap between local footy and major league.
“For someone who’s from a regional place who hasn’t seen much of the professional side of the sport, it’s great,” she said.
“They’ve just introduced an Indigenous round for women, which they didn’t have in previous years.
“So, I think it’s definitely progressing in Cairns and on an Australian level.”
Creating pathways to the elite level
Cairns Academy of Sport is partnered with AFL Cairns, Northern Pride, Cairns Netball and FNQ Swimming.
Of the 45 athletes, two young women made it to the Gold Coast Suns Academy, one young man qualified for Olympic trials and another was selected to play for the Northern Pride.
“It’s been quite revolutionary as far as changing pathways for young athletes finishing high school,” TAFE Queensland Project Manager Jesse O’Hara said.
“Students have the opportunity to train in a full-time environment while undertaking a vocational qualification.
“One of our young Northern Pride athletes wasn’t on the Northern Pride system at all.
“There’s no way of knowing that kid would have got an opportunity playing for the Northern Pride had this academy never been started.”
Mr O’Hara said that he has already entered into agreements with new sporting partners for next year’s program.
Townsville is the next location the program is planned to be rolled out.
“They’re focussed on the development of me as a person, not just as a footy player,” Mya said.