2024 WAFLW Player Focus: Mia Russo (West Perth)

BOTTOM-AGE young gun Mia Russo is one of the top prospects to watch next year, and is among a host of exciting West Australian talent coming through the junior pathway. After back-to-back Rogers Cup Best and Fairests, the midfielder/forward is finding her feet at League level and had a huge game against East Perth on the weekend.

Russo racked up 23 disposals – 13 contested – as well as 11 inside 50s and kicked three goals from five scoring shots in a best on ground performance against the Royals. Having missed the week before and building her form up prior to that, her work throughout the season came together in Round 14. Her performance was the subject of our WAFLW Player Focus.

Mia Russo
West Perth-logoWest PerthMidfielder-Forward

Mia Russo

Height: 162cm

Weight: -

DOB: 06-08-2007


2024 WAFL Women’s: Round 14
West Perth 13.12 (90) defeated East Perth 2.3 (15)

#35 Mia Russo (West Perth)
Stats: 23 disposals (17 kicks, 6 handballs) @ 73.9% disposal efficiency, 4 marks, 7 clearances, 4 tackles, 11 inside 50s, 3 goals, 2 behinds


Russo started the game on the bench and after six minutes moved straight into the centre stoppage. There she adapted to the body contact against an equally young Royals cohort, laying a strong tackle to start proceedings. The very next stoppage, Russo used her burst speed to collect it cleanly off the deck and get a handball away.

A couple of minutes later at the next centre stoppage, Russo laid another great tackle and found the ball spilling out yet again and was able to dish off by hand for a second touch. She continued to dive on the loose ball hunting it around the packs without winning a touch as such.

However in the 17th minute, she won it, broke a tackle from a stoppage and was able to kick forward, then pushed up to the next contest at half-forward, won it off the deck and kicked to a dangerous spot 10m out from the Falcons’ goal. Russo would finish with a mild four touches in the first term.


The explosive onballer would begin racking up the ball in the second term, but again had a delayed start with a nice spot on the pine to begin the quarter. In the seventh minute, she came had her first touch off a handball receive, and though her subsequent handball missed the target, Russo followed up to corral Lucy Greenwood.

Russo kicked the first of her three goals in the ninth minute when she won a free kick just outside 50 and received a 50m for encroachment sending her to about 25m out from goal. Making it look easy, the Falcon put it straight through the middle and almost had a second a few minutes later off the handball receive with her shot missing to the right for a behind.

In the same term, Russo burst out of a clearance midway through the term and kicked long inside 50 just in front of her teammate, and then laid a huge tackle on Emily Boothman who tried to fend her off, winning a free kick.

Showing her strength later in the quarter, Russo stood up in a tackle on the wing to get a handball away, and then would end the term on a high. Running hard forward and lurking around the outside of congestion in the forward pocket, she would receive a handball off Kayla Van Den Heever and burst away to slot her second goal on the run and finish the half with 11 disposal following a seven-touch quarter.


Unlike the first half, Russo started the third term on-ball up against Makayla Pugliese-Thompson. The centre stoppage did not go her way, but she worked behind the ball to intercept one-on-one at half-back and deliver a lovely kick to Imahra Cameron which eventually led to a Kenleigh Duve goal. Her kick from half-back into the corridor opened the ground up and showed off her vision and execution.

She had another couple of disposals over the next few minutes, kicking inside 50, and also recorded her second behind with a flying shot on the run from 35m. In the past Russo has tried to do too much with ball-in-hand and that element of her game did appear in the midway point of the third term. She attempted to take on two tacklers and was brought down, conceding a holding the ball free kick against.

After a break, Russo returned to save a potential Stefany Stack goal with a diving attempt close to the defensive goalline forcing a behind. Though not a statistic, her defensive running on this occasion caught the eye. She shared a laugh with fellow State Academy member Greenwood at half-back a minute later when assisting her out of bounds, before having another touch which was a clearing kick from defence to the wing just before the final break.


Russo’s final term saw her start forward in another change to the other three terms, and had her first touch four minutes into the quarter. She received a handball at the top of 50 and put it to her teammate Katherine Bennett‘s advantage close to goal.

Midway through the quarter, Russo took a strong intercept mark at half-forward and placed it well in front of a leading target in the pocket, then won a quick handball via a nice gather and clean pass. At the 12-minute mark, Russo kicked her third and final goal in a remarkable effort.

Once again lurking out the back of the half-forward stoppage as a sweeper, Russo grabbed the loose ball behind the ruck’s feet and burst away from the congestion to look like she was handballing to Rithia Dunn. It drew an opponent and instead Russo faked the handball and once they had overcommitted, Russo readjusted and kicked a great goal on the run.

Her final touch would fittingly be a centre clearance, bursting forward and kicking inside 50 for her 23rd touch and 11th inside 50 in a best on ground performance.


Russo is a talented prospect for next year and is coming off winning the Under 16s MVP at the national carnival. Now set to feature heavily for the Under 18s side this year, Russo has all the junior accolades one could expect.

From a draft profile perspective, Russo has explosive speed, fantastic strength and great goal sense where she can just as easily play forward as she can through the midfield. A natural midfielder – a role where she dominated at Rogers Cup level – Russo is still refining some areas of her game.

At times she can blaze away or do too much when the option is to handball or open up the game to a closer teammate, as well as her defensive running. However on the weekend, the latter was very good and showed marked improvement throughout the season.

An offensive player with plenty of tricks, Russo is naturally strong at that side of the game, while still building on the other areas. Among the top players for next year, expect the bottom-ager to only get better and develop into a fully fledged midfielder who rests forward in time.

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