IT MAY be about 1000km from Mackay to the Gold Coast, but it's been an easy move to make for 18-year-old draft hopeful Alana Gee.
The bullocking midfielder – a member of Gold Coast's academy – looks set to be selected in the early picks of the Queensland portion of the NAB AFLW Draft on June 29.
Gee graduated school last year and is currently studying secondary teaching at Griffith University, but primarily made the move south and live with a host family to further her football.
"I lived in Mackay my whole life until this year. It's definitely rugby dominated, but I think AFL's growing," Gee told womens.afl.
"I think the main reason I wanted to take footy seriously was that I've always loved sport and been involved in a lot. But being alright at footy, I thought I may as well pursue it. I love it as well."
Having grown up playing soccer, Gee made the switch to football when she was 14 through a school competition.
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It's safe to say it was a bit of a culture shock for her Russian-born mother.
"My Dad brought Mum over here, they met in Moscow. He's from Sydney, so they moved there first and then up to Mackay. She loves it here," she said.
"It was really easy to transition to footy from soccer because my parents have supported me in every sport I've done. They were really encouraging.
"Mum was (initially) freaking out, she said, 'Don’t play that sport, you're going to get hurt', and Dad was like, 'Just let her do it', but they're really on board now and love watching me.
"When she first came and watched my match, she said, 'Oh my God Alana, what is this?'. And I was like, 'It's footy'. But she loves it, she's a big supporter of Gold Coast Suns now."
A member of the NAB AFLW Academy, Gee was named Queensland's MVP at this year's NAB AFLW Under-18 Championships.
Her mix of inside and outside run, her foot skills and ability to read the play holds her in good stead, while she's learnt a lot with the Suns over the past few years.
"It's my third year now, I love it, such a good opportunity. Being involved in an academy really takes your skills and professionalism to the next level," Gee said.
"You work on what you need to, but it also builds on your strengths. Up until this year, I never had a pre- or post-game routine, and it has really helped. It's meant I'm not worrying on things, and I'm just focusing more on my footy."