One of Gold Coast’s newest AFLW recruits Alana Barba feels she will be ready for the rigours of AFLW football next season.

Barba has been one of the rising stars of the VFLW competition this year, playing 17 games for Essendon including three finals.

Earlier this week her outstanding season was recognised with a third-place finish in Essendon’s Best & Fairest while she also claimed the Most Valuable Young Player award.

That VFLW form saw her also rewarded with a spot on Gold Coast’s AFLW list for 2022, and Barba said she was ready to take the opportunity presented to her.

“I think (playing in the VFLW) has really helped me develop into the player I am today,” Barba told SUNS Media.

“I think it’s given me a bit of an advantage against the bigger bodies and it’s prepared me pretty well for this next level.”

She’s played alongside reigning SUNS AFLW Club Champion Lauren Ahrens at Essendon and said she was excited to reunite with her teammate on the Gold Coast.

“I have a really good friendship with Loz so anytime I get to take to the field with her is pretty exciting,” she said.

“I can’t wait to play on the same team with her again and I’m looking forward to what’s to come with that.”

Barba’s love for football started the same way a lot of others do, kicking the footy in the backyard with dad.

She then went to her local club and played with the boys at age seven, but that experience was short-lived.

“I went to a training session with the boys, but they pulled my hair so my mum and dad pulled me out straight away,” she laughed.

“I had to put my footy career on hold for a little bit but it was worth the wait.”

Joining the Calder Cannons as a teenager, Barba quickly showed her aptitude to the sport and before long was added to Essendon’s VFLW list.

She was a crucial member of the Bombers’ midfield group this season, averaging 16 disposals and eight tackles per game while also going forward and booting 10 goals.

She says that ability to play a variety of roles is something that will hold her in good stead as she prepares for her debut AFLW season.

“I’m a pretty versatile player – I play my best footy probably in the midfield as an inside midfielder but I can go up forward and kick some goals or play as a back-liner,” Barba said.

“So yeah I think that’s probably one of my strengths, that I’m pretty versatile.”

Barba was quick to make the move to Queensland and is currently in hotel quarantine as she prepares to join her teammates at the club.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity.

“I’m just really looking forward to meeting the girls, working alongside them and learning from them.”