For an up-and-coming rugby talent to pit her skills against boys and an uncanny ability to play most positions in the forwards, it's no surprise Mikaya Kaipo is eyeing the Olympics.
The 12-year-old Kamo Intermediate School student could set the stage alight at the biggest sporting showpiece on earth in a few years' time with her determination and whanau support in tow.
"Olympics would be a good experience and women have proved by winning medals there before that they are just as good as men," she says.
The fact the lanky pre-teen competed in the national Roller Mills Tournament in Cambridge last month— unofficially only the sixth girl from Northland to take part in one of New Zealand's oldest rugby tourneys — is no big deal.
But the fact she was the only female player among about 250 competitors from throughout the North Island may be hard for gun rugby coaches like Joe Schmidt to believe.
But wait, there's more.
That Mikaya was selected in the tournament teams capped off an outstanding year of rugby for her.
The tournament is restricted to under-13s who are below 57kg, and 10 teams including Northland, North Harbour, Auckland West, Auckland East, Counties Manukau, Waikato, Thames Valley, Bay of Plenty, King Country and Taranaki competed this year.
There's talent in New Zealand rugby and then there's Mikaya's talent.
At 55kg, she plays tighthead but wants to bed down a loose forward position and ransack the breakdown.
"My dad wanted me to play tighthead prop because there aren't many people who are specialised in that position but my favourite is No 6 because you tear away fast off a scrum and I like competing at the breakdown."
Lock is another position she's keen to try because Black Fern Eloise Blackwell, a teacher at Epsom Girls' Grammer School in Auckland where Mikaya will move to next year, plays lock.
Mikaya grew up idolising another Black Fern, Sarah Goss, who she reckons has great leadership skills and runs the game well.
After trying out netball, basketball, rugby league, touch rugby, 7s rugby, waka ama, and BMX, the Whangārei born-and-bred player settled for the oval ball game and has since become technically quite skilled.
Mikaya has for many years played in the blue and white of the City Rugby Union Football Club and various representative teams in Whangārei.
Her passion for rugby saw her start the first girls 7s team at Kamo Intermediate School last year.
On the Roller Mills Tournament, Mikaya said it was hard because she was the only girl to compete but she was determined to do well.
Proud dad William Kaipo said Mikaya has immense passion for her sport and has accepted every challenge and done her best to excel.
"Mikaya has pushed to bring her passion to fruition even when the odds have been against her. She has encouraged others and been thankful for the love and support she has had from her whanau and friends."
Her parents look forward to her achieving two goals - compete at the Olympics and become a lawyer.