AUSSIE RULES: Mackenzie Brinin, 14, is the perfect example of a young girl realising her sporting dreams thanks to Narangba Valley State High School's Aussie rules Viper Academy.
For years, Mackenzie played netball, but always knew her legs were made for the wide-open expanses of the round oval and the free-flowing style of play Aussie rules offers.
The now seven-year-old high school program was responsible for helping her and the 150 other students involved get that opportunity.
"She would always come off the (netball) court frustrated ... I'd tell her she'd had a good game and she'd say, 'no I didn't',” Mackenzie's mum Karen said.
"When she started playing football, all those frustrations went away and all those skills she had, she brought to football and just creamed it.
"(She and the other girls) were coming off laughing and smiling and having the time of their life.
"It wasn't until I watched her play football that I knew what she was missing.”
Although the family grew up in a rugby league-dominated state, her roots actually date back to her grandmother playing Aussie rules in Broken Hill when she was just a teenager.
Mackenzie went on to play rep footy in her first year and the Vipers Academy has three teams playing in next month's AFLQ Schools of Excellence competition finals.
Narangba was a founding member of the competition when it was just eight teams strong, but for the past two years has been played between 130 schools across the state.
Mackenzie's success prompted Karen to work with Vipers coach Scott Gregory and the Narangba Crows Football Club to create and under-14 and under-16s team.
"Being in AFL is like a breath of fresh air,” Karen said.
"The culture is beautiful.”
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