Rising local Aussie rules star, and former Merimbula Digger, Dakota Hooper has made her mark on the big stage, representing NSW in the national school championships in Sydney late last month.
The 16-year-old has been a lifelong AFL fan, and had the chance to walk in the shoes of some of her heroes by playing on the hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground, a revered venue that is the home of competition powerhouse, the Sydney Swans.
Dakota also plied her trade at Spotless Stadium and Blacktown International Sports Park, and was thrilled to pick up the best on ground award against South Australia.
“I played almost every state, with our NSW under 16s girls’ team placing third in the championships,” she said.
“I never believed something like this was possible for youth girls until now.
“Up until I was thirteen I was still running around with the Merimbula Diggers’ under 13s boys.
“I've grown up supporting AFL all my life and I was so happy to make my family as well as the South Coast proud in something that I was truly passionate about.”
There were also some added perks, and Dakota made sure she took in the best possible view of Sydney by climbing the iconic Harbour Bridge during her trip.
Dakota said her trip wouldn’t have been possible without the support of her sponsors, who helped fund her trip after reading an article published in the News Weekly in June.
“I’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who supported me in covering the costs; you made this dream possible,” Dakota said.
“I especially want to thank Eden Marine High School, South East Fibre Exports, ARV Caravans, Rotary Club Merimbula, and the Merimbula Diggers, who also allowed me to join in on the under 16s boys’ training sessions.”