Ethiopian-born, Australian Rules-bred: The pre-teen heading for AFLW

She's just 12 years old and only saw her first game of AFL three years ago, but Ethiopian-born Amren Abrahim has the development coaches talking AFLW.

Amren Abrahim is not even a teenager yet, but she's already breaking down cultural barriers and demonstrating her potential as a future AFL star.

Arriving in Australia from Ethiopia in 2013, she'd never heard of the game and she admits her first impressions weren't favourable.

"I watched it on TV and I was like okay, I have no idea what they are doing, they're just running around and the umpires are calling some rules."

Amren Abrahim leads her team in pre-match exercises
Amren Abrahim leads her team in pre-match exercises
SBS

But, a year later, she stumbled upon a clinic run by the North Melbourne Football Club.

It was being run by the club's diversity and inclusion manager Bridget Barker, who said Amren's eagerness to try something new showed she was a natural leader.

"She literally walked up to us and said, what's this - can I join in? So a nine-year-old who's able to do that with confidence is a nine-year-old who really has it within her, I think."

And Amren hasn't looked back.

Ms Barker said Amren has continued to develop her skills over the last three years, and that her determination to succeed in the sport has made her a role model to many other girls at the club.

NMFC Bridget Barker and Amren Abrahim
NMFC Bridget Barker and Amren Abrahim
SBS

"Her leadership also pertains to her resilience really. She's moved to Australia, a brand new country, and has not been afraid to just get out there and give it a go."

Her father had been hesitant to let her play.

As Amren began devoting more time to the sport, she said her father feared that her studies and religious commitments would suffer as a result.

"Last year, and the year before that, he said: no, you have to stay home, and read the religious book the Qu'ran. He said you have to go to the Arabic schools and stay on your studies," she told SBS World News.

But she said after her father watched the inaugural season of the AFLW, he recognised Amren's potential to forge a future in football.

"He also looked at my awards and all the trophies I got, and said if you're this good, you can keep playing."

Amren Abrahim receives a pass in Flemington grand final
Amren Abrahim receives a pass in Flemington grand final
SBS

In the last year, Amren has been been recruited by a state-wide diversity team, a TAC Cup development squad and has captained her first grand final with her local club, Flemington.

President of Flemington, Luke Hopman, said while it's been a break-out year for the 12-year-old, she's just getting started.

"We have a number of girls who could make AFLW one day and she's definitely one of them. If she continues on working as hard as she has and what she's been doing, the sky is the limit for Amren," he declared.

And the Year Seven student is aiming high.

Amren is hoping to become the first hijab-wearing AFLW player, and continue playing the sport she's grown to love.

"Every time I'm stressed, sad, or mad, my mood will just change when I play. It's just so much fun."

NMFC Bridget Barker and Amren Abrahim
NMFC Bridget Barker and Amren Abrahim
SBS